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Belinda Schwehr

Belinda is a well-known legal framework expert and trainer, known for her passionate delivery about legal literacy and the need for public sector staff to remain up-to-date in the public law principles which govern their day-to-day work. She was awarded ‘Change Agent in Adult Social Care’ in Care Talk’s 2022 ‘Women Achieving Greatness’ Awards.

She worked as a trainer for public sector staff full time 2003-2018, after practising as a barrister and then as a local government and social care solicitor. In 2018 she founded and has been running CASCAIDr, a specialist legal advice charity with a mission to uphold people’s public law rights.

Belinda’s special area of expertise is the Care Act and its interface with the Mental Capacity Act and the wider legal frameworks underpinning Continuing NHS Healthcare, and s117 of the Mental Health Act. She covers assessment, eligibility, care planning and cuts, choice of accommodation, direct payments, safeguarding, commissioning, charging and complaints. Her publicly available output on the centrality of public law principles is available on YouTube.

She has given oral and written expert evidence to the House of Lords’ Select Committee on the invisibility of social care and to the EHRC’s enquiry on routes for challenge in adult social care. In 2020-21 she provided regular live comment to radio and TV programmes (You and Yours, Today, CoProduceCare and GB News) and appeared regularly on CoProduceCare’s livestream events on the Care Act Easements and the inadequacies of policy and logistics regarding public bodies’ MCA compliance, and support of the care home sector, during Covid-19.

In the previous decade, she worked with ADASS on the lawful delivery of personalisation (Putting People First: a DH initiative). She also supervised, for ADASS, the production by a law firm of an early form of national Commissioning Guidance for councils. In 2007 she was grant funded by the Department of Health to put on a Mental Capacity Act awareness-raising podcast and developed her own e-learning package, one of the earliest of the form attempting to teach professional judgment, which was taken up by 25 authorities for use potentially for 10,000 staff and individuals in each authority. She completed an additional module on DoLS, in 2009, rightly predicting that the Government’s ambiguous guidance as to what constituted deprivation of liberty could not possibly be sufficient to withstand judicial scrutiny.

What people say about Belinda:

‘You made a superb and lasting impression on those that attended, including the managers who were present, I'm sure there will now be an enthusiasm to deliver better practice and as a consequence an improved service to our clients.'

‘Thanking you most warmly for an excellent and informative day on the implications for Social Services of the Human Rights Act. I have not spoken to anyone who has not commented that it was 'one of the best and most worthwhile days’ they have ever undertaken in training.

'I’ve received excellent feedback from other Trusts, Social Services & internal staff re your presentation on hospital discharge and bed-blocking...'

'Thank you for an extremely helpful presentation....... colleagues..... found the event to be both educational and entertaining - an unusual combination where matters legal are involved.'

'The feedback has been extremely positive both regarding your presentation skills ('clear, balanced, good humoured') and the content ('excellent content with high standard of information/answers’)'.

'Nearly 90% of delegates said that their own objectives were met … I was particularly impressed in the manner you presented a complex and potentially uninteresting area particularly well; highlighting effectively with good examples the impact it would have on a range of local authority services.'

'Belinda's enthusiasm was energising and motivating. She is clearly a very good public speaker and an excellent communicator. Many a lesser speaker would have hidden behind the well-produced hand-outs, but Belinda used them only to supplement her presentation. The day was well worth it.'

'Very many thanks indeed on behalf of my colleagues from Social Services, and from Health for the day that you … delivered for us…you have certainly gone a long way towards helping people to know better about lawful practice, and also what strategies might be needed in terms of key responsibilities of other agencies.'

'One response to the section headed 'any remarks you would like to make about the seminar would be helpful in planning future events' simply said 'book Belinda'!'

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