Mental Capacity Assessments
We spend most of our lives making decisions on a daily basis and rarely do we stop and think about the processes we’re going through as we do. Sometimes they’re almost instant … what we’re going to wear is usually solved by a quick glance out of the window. And what we’re going to eat often depends upon what’s in the fridge or on the menu at a particular restaurant. But what happens when we’re not able to make some decisions anymore? What happens when looking out of the window has little or no association with the clothes we wear? Decisions aren’t always small decisions either. We might need to decide where to live, what to do with our money or who to leave our prized possessions to in our will. The truth is, throughout our lives we have to make decision both great and small and sometimes people aren’t in a position to be able to make these decisions. What do you do?
The Mental Capacity Act (and in some instances common law tests) provides a framework for assessing whether people can make their own decisions and what to do if they can’t. I provide a range of professional services in this area from assessing mental capacity to helping make decisions. I also provide training courses. Please follow the links to find out more about the services I offer.
The Mental Capacity Act (2005) provides a framework for assessing a person’s mental capacity to make a particular decision at a particular time. Healthcare, welfare and financial decisions can all be assessed using the Act as a framework although it is just one of six different tests that can be used depending upon the decision being assessed. Other decisions such as whether a person has the mental capacity to create a Will or join in with Court proceedings require different, common law tests. It’s imperative that those who assess mental capacity are familiar with which test to apply in different situations. These tests are the same tests that lawyers are familiar with and judges use to make decisions in court. It is vitally important that it’s clear from the start what decision is being assessed. A focused, specific decision makes for an accurate assessment whereas a more general decision makes for a less accurate assessment and flies in the face good practice.
I Can Be Instructed To Assess Mental Capacity For A Range Of Decisions
Some of the decisions that I might be asked to assess are;
- Capacity to make decisions about social media and internet use
- Capacity to manage finances
- Capacity to make advanced decisions to refuse medical treatment
- Capacity to create a Lasting Power of Attorney
- Capacity to make welfare decisions
- Capacity to decide where to live
- Capacity to make a will (testamentary capacity)
- Capacity to conduct Court proceedings (capacity to litigate)
- Capacity to consent to sexual relationships
I can also assess the mental capacity of children in certain circumstances where the Act permits. These are;
- The management of property and affairs of someone under 16 if they are likely to lack capacity when they turn 18
- The criminal offences of ill-treatment or wilful neglect of a person lacking capacity regardless of their age
My experience of working with children with learning disabilities and cognitive impairments spans back to 2005 and I understand the different approaches required when assessing the capacity of adults or children. I also understand that communication is key to helping someone make decisions for themselves, that’s why I do all we can to identify appropriate communication methods for the person involved.