A mental capacity assessor, quite simply is a professional who assesses a person’s mental capacity. Mental capacity is the term used to identify whether a person can make any decision. Often, a mental capacity assessor is a Social Worker or Psychiatrist because it sits within their areas of expertise as skilled assessors but, depending upon the decision, anyone can assess a person’s mental capacity. Day to day decisions are often assessed by care workers or family members and more complex decisions are assessed by experienced mental capacity assessors.
As we go about our daily lives we make decisions all the time and most of the time we don’t notice we’re doing it. When we cross the road, we look for oncoming traffic and in an instant we have weighed up different factors related to the decision. How close is the nearest vehicle? How fast are they travelling? How long will it take me to cross the road? Is the road clear for me to cross? We don’t necessarily notice that we’ve considered each of these questions but for any decision we make we’ve considered different pieces of information and used that information to reach our conclusion. We may not always reach the best decision and often we learn from making unwise decisions.
However, some people aren’t able to make decisions for themselves and this may be due to a long-term impairment such as an acquired brain injury, learning disability or dementia. It may also be a result of a shorter-term impairment such as an accident with temporary effects or consuming too much alcohol. The law sets out how decisions should be made for another person if the impairment is long-term or the decisions needs to be made in an emergency. The overarching principle is that everyone should be assumed able to make decisions for themselves until it is proven that thy can’t and that is using a test called a mental capacity assessment.
There are many circumstances where a mental capacity assessor is required and often they are instructed by solicitors as part of ongoing or upcoming court proceedings. Some of the different decisions where a mental capacity assessor might be required are to determine whether a person has the mental capacity to make decisions relating to;
For simple, day-to-day decisions, the person who assesses the mental capacity of another person will either be a family member, court appointed deputy, attorney (Lasting Power of Attorney) or care worker. However, when the decision is more complex a mental capacity assessor is required. Mental capacity assessors are usually health or social care professionals with experience assessing mental capacity. They may have additional training and may be a qualified Best Interests Assessor. Professionals are used because they have experience undertaking mental capacity assessments and other tests that are necessary for some decisions such as making a will or whether a person can join in with court proceedings.
I am a registered Social Worker, qualified Best Interests Assessor and expert witness with over a decade of experience assessing mental capacity in many different circumstances and can be instructed as a mental capacity assessor for any decision. If you would like to read more about mental capacity assessments, please visit my mental capacity pages. Or, if you would like to instruct me as a mental capacity assessor, please contact me or call 0203 617 1255 and I be happy to discuss my mental capacity assessor services with you.