In our previous blog we spoke about changes to the Mental Capacity Act (2005). In this blog we dig deeper into mental capacity and assessing people who may lack capacity……
Care service managers and owners can be very concerned if their rating goes from ‘Good’ to ‘Requires Improvement’.
These are in many cases related to mental capacity assessment.
Assessing Mental Capacity
- Confusion around how to assess and document capacity and who should do it?
- No capacity assessments in place, yet staff/carers routinely make decisions for people using their service.
- Vague and general assessments such as…. “Mr Smith lacks capacity”.
Who should assess capacity?
When adults receive health or care services with staff involved in delivering those services, such as helping them get dressed, assisting with personal care or administering medication they must ask themselves one simple question:
“What is my authority for doing these things for this person?”
It’s a very simple question and the answer is straightforward. If there is any possible way you can enable a person to make a particular decision for themselves, then your authority must come from their consent.
If someone might lack capacity, your authority comes from the MCA, which says that anyone working in health or social care is protected from liability provided they ‘reasonably believe’ the person lacks capacity, and ‘reasonably believe’ that what they want to do is in the best interests of the person (rather than being easiest for staff).
This means that the answer to ‘who should assess someone’s capacity?’ is…. any care staff who will do things the person can’t consent to. If someone’s condition is stable, you don’t need to reassess all the time. You can rely on an assessment in a care plan provided it’s reviewed at intervals, and as long as you don’t assume lack of capacity without evidence:
“When Mr Smith arrived, they had a water infection, and we had to decide what they might like to eat or drink. Now that they are better, it is essential to take the time to let them choose for them self. They are happier and eats better.”