How it came about: the forthcoming RCSLT MCA pages.

Some of the authors in action.

I am so pleased that the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapy will be putting up some new pages (and a position paper!) on the role of SLT in decision making and mental capacity issues. It’s been quite a journey and the light is shining at the end of the tunnel. Let me start from the beginning:

Two and a bit years ago I submitted the manuscript for my last book on the role of the SLT in decision-making and issues related to the mental capacity act. One of the contributors- an SLT called Mark Jayes was also a fellow PhD NIHR trainee. His PhD focused on capacity and mine on language led dementia, and we both felt that our profession could benefit from more guidance in the area of mental capacity. Thus we contacted RCSLT to find out how to propose a new position paper on the topic.

Firstly we needed to complete and submit an application proposing the new guideline. This needed to evidence the relevance and importance of such a guideline. Once submitted we had a couple of conference calls with the team at RCSLT to discuss when and how to take the issue forward. Consequently a scoping meeting was planned to gain input from a wider group of SLTs and identify the breadth of the project.

The scoping meeting was held at the start of 2017 after RCSLT had advertised for interested parties. At this meeting RCSLT employees proposed the new mental capacity pages. The group agreed these sounded great but all attendees (there were about 10 SLTs from across the UK) felt a position paper essential to enabling clinicians to justify service provision and expansion.

Consequently an advert was published inviting applications for lead and supporting authors. The meetings to start writing the pages began in the summer of 2017. MarkJayes has been acting as lead author- putting together a wonderfully comprehensive and useful set web pages over a series of three meetings and numerous email liaison. The pages follow the RCSLT format but will include information summarising the significant issues relevant to SLTs, discussing the roles of the SLT, explaining key terms, case examples for discussion, providing links to useful articles, books and resources. The pages are being rigorously reviewed by a broader group of SLTs (and some other professionals including a lawyer).

We are now commencing work on the position paper. This doesn’t seem too complex or daunting now the web pages are being finalised. The position paper feels essential to clinical practice. Many SLTs report feeling unsure of their role in this area. These pages are being developed to increase confidence within the profession, demonstrate the breadth of our role and support service development.

The RCSLT web pages will go live (all things being well) in June this year. So watch this space – or perhaps watch the RCSLT website. But I will let you know, as I am rather excited about his project!

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