Gabe Conlon on Human Rights Day 2021
Human Rights Day, Friday 10 December, 2021
To mark Human Rights Day, our Chairman,Gabe Conlon, reflects on his recent decision to create a lasting power of attorney, and why this decision can be such an important part of protecting human rights for many people.
"I've been thinking about human rights in the context of my recent decision to create a power of attorney for property and affairs alongside a power of attorney for health and welfare.
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 and its Code provides me with a very clear basis for creating these powers and explains the best practice expected from others making decisions for me should I lose the mental capacity to do so for myself. The Act is one of the strongest pieces of social legislation and its roots are in post-war declarations on human rights, subsequent legislation, and various decisions by the European Court of Human Rights over the years.
After 16 years the Code, but not the Act, is being rewritten, reflecting changes to ‘Deprivation of Liberty’ guidance after the introduction of the new ’Liberty Protection’ Safeguards. The Act is driven by important human rights principles in that all adults have a right to make decisions for themselves and be given the support to do so, even if these decisions are thought, by others, to be ‘unwise or strange’. Where there is lack of mental capacity there is the requirement that actions, taken are demonstrably in the person’s ‘best interests’ and any decision or action must always be the least restrictive, consistent with the individual’s freedoms and rights. Now, in my life I have been very fortunate to be able to exercise choice over what I do and when I do it. A right, not a luxury, denied to so many others.
Practice Solutions, a company I founded over two decades ago, has always been concerned to empower and enable others to take control and exercise their rights. We have been fortunate to have worked with prodigious colleagues and partners who share the belief that people are at the very heart of all we do, and our core values of integrity, reliability, excellence, and commitment are the very expression of this belief. Delaying the decision to set up my power of attorney probably relates to a reluctance to accept mortality and acknowledge the prospect that the ability to make informed choices and decisions about either health or financial affairs may be lost.
Giving complete control and the right to make decisions over your life, to someone else, requires the highest degree of trust and certainty that the recipient(s) of that power can be relied on to safeguard your best interests. ‘Which’, the Consumer Association came to my aid with a simple cost-effective step-by-step online guide/application, which is easy to complete and which is subsequently reviewed by their legal experts before submission to the Court of Protection.
Acting in someone’s best interests and securing the individual’s human rights is challenging. However, making a power of attorney and donating that power to someone who can be trusted is one step towards ensuring basic human rights are protected and sustained for all."