I attended a Webinar last night for Arts Therapists about GDPR (yawn...I know...bear with!)
"This is about human rights" she said - now THAT caught my attention.
It is a law all about your right to privacy and transparency and fairness, of what OTHER people do with YOUR information. Mention unfairness and my ears always prick up - I am ever the advocate for the underdog, those with little or no voice, those silenced or dismissed or treated differently. So now I am listening :-)
I am pleased to say that much of what was said was not really news to me. To those of us who worked with adults with learning disabilities in the turn from 20th to 21st century, the social, and legal changes that occurred at this time were significant and relevant. One of the most important legal changes of that time was the Mental Capacity Act 2005. It now assumed capacity which Meant that all people had assumed capacity and anyone disputing this had to prove otherwise. So now every person with a LD had to be involved in their life and social and health decisions. (There are many shocking stories from the past). The MCA was something we, the Team members working with ADULTS could now lean on, quote, ensure was adhered to - by law, when things were being decided or suggested that over-rode the rights and views of the adult with a learning disability, and was brought to our attention in the Community & In-Patient Health & Social Care Teams.
I learned to and have always created bespoke contracts for people, always talked them through who I am, what I do, what we will do etc etc, very clearly and repeatedly. Always collaborated with others to ensure this was done most beneficially...in speech, writing, message, drawing, diagrams, recordings....whatever was needed to make sure they understood and remembered what they were signing up to with me. An example I recall was an elderly client with a forensic history who angered very quickly when the legal aspects of his case were brought up. Obviously this was a problem for Parole Board meetings. We needed to find a way to feedback and speak to the Parole Board without getting overwhelmed and angry. We found that speaking and doing at the same time helped him stay calm. That talking things through whilst the words were also being written or drawn down on his behalf kept him focussed and feeling deeply heard. We found that certain colours meant very specific things to him. The he enjoyed the continuity of sessions and work that was kept safely between them. We found that his volatility could be contained with paced work on things that challenged him, and we found that verbal language confused him especially in groups, and stressful situations. So we created a form of communication that would enable the best him to be present at his parole hearing. We planned the questions, made the full length interview, filmed it and then edited this to 8 minutes. He watched this and approved it, with much pride. He asked for the Parole to accept it as a submission and they agreed. The pride I saw on his face as it played was memorable and he was able to remain calm, thinking and engaged.
He got the outcome he wanted.
The MCA was a major game changer. I wonder if GDPR will also be? I already have seen people, therapists really consider, some for the first time, what it is they are doing and why, with people's information. It shocks me on one level to see how little thought has been given, and then it doesn't when I know most people work with a sense that everyone can communicate fully in the same manner. When you are used to meeting very unique individuals with very varied communication needs, within the very individualised arena of art making, you learn to approach everyone in an individualised way every time.
For this I am very grateful to my family, my previous employer (the NHS), my volunteering experiences in Romania, my colleagues, and my widely differing and unique clients who gave me the opportunity to develop my equanimity, my compassion, my creativity and my humility. These skills and qualities have put me in good stead for GDPR and the recognition and upholding of each clients human rights within my own legal, professional, insurance, registration body and employing organisational requirements.
And look out for my future one that will be more bespoke, more interesting, more creative, and more pertinent to you.