COVID-19 Vaccine Mental Capacity Assessment Consultancy Service
Like me, you may be rather excited about the recent news that a COVID-19 vaccine has been approved by the Medicines and Health products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Also, that The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) have advised that care home residents (older adults) will be among the first to be offered the vaccine.
This means that time is limited to make sure that your care home residents can either consent to taking the COVID-19 vaccine or that other arrangements are in place to ensure that the principles of mental capacity are adhered to. If a resident can, and does consent to taking the vaccine, the Government had published various forms that can be used to record their consent. If you suspect that a resident lacks capacity for this specific decision, and someone has been appointed as a deputy or LPA (Lasting Power of Attorney) for health and welfare decisions, this may fall within the remit of their role. If so, they should decide whether it is in the person’s best interests to take the vaccine.
If the resident lacks capacity and has no-one appointed to make decisions, then it will likely be a healthcare professional who is the decision-maker because they will be the person responsible for administering the medication.
How is it decided whether a person lacks capacity?
You will, I’m sure be familiar with the so called functional and diagnostic elements to a mental capacity assessment. Can the person understand, retain and weight-up the relevant information and can they communicate their decision back to you by any means? If they can’t, is this because of an impairment of their mind or brain?
What is the Relevant Information?
When assessing a person’s capacity to make a decision, it is imperative to ensure that they have all the information they need to make the decisions. Not all the peripheral information, just the relevant or salient points. The Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) standard operating procedure published by the NHS on 10 December 2020 identifies the following salient information that should be used when assessing a person’s mental capacity to decide whether or not to have the COVID-19 vaccine:
- the anticipated benefits of vaccination in the simplest of terms,
- the likely side effects from vaccination and any individual risks they may run should be addressed, and
- the disbenefits of not consenting to the vaccination
There are some details that shouldn’t be included in the salient points because, at this stage they are unknown such as the longer-term benefits (or burdens) of taking the medication and the likelihood of it lowering the risk of onward transmission. The vaccine that is currently available (December 2020) is administered via 2 separate injections and you may wish to include this in the salient points.
How can I help?
I know how hard care home managers work and admire the incredible efforts that have been made during the COVID-19 pandemic, often at great personal cost. Sometimes, mental capacity assessments are less of a priority than other aspects of running a care home and are reduced to a tick-box exercise or, in some instances, don’t exist. This can’t be the case for such a fundamental decision as the COVID-19 vaccine.
If you’ve struggled with mental capacity assessments in the past, or they haven’t adhered to the principles of the Mental Capacity Act, I can offer a special COVID-19 vaccine mental capacity assessment consultancy service. Typically, I would only offer a half or full day training session which can be quite costly, particularly for smaller care homes. In addition to formal training sessions, I am now offering a new service to care homes. A 90-minute consultancy service for just £149. This will include a Zoom video call to provide advice and expert opinion about COVID-19 mental capacity assessments. Whilst care home staff may not be the decision-maker, it is possible that the decision-maker will meet the person for the first time when the vaccine is going to be administered. Therefore, you can assist with the decision-making by consulting family, friends, advocates and helping to determine the wishes of the person. All of these are required before the person administering the vaccine can make a best interests decision. You can also help avoid delays by ensuring you have up to date information and speak to anyone who has been appointed deputy or attorney for health and welfare decisions.
To take advantage of this service, just click on the button below to pay and I will be in touch to arrange a suitable time for our video consultation.