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Mental Capacity Assessments

Mental Capacity

Mental Capacity is the ability to make a specific decision on a specific matter, with support if needed.  In order to do this, one must be able to understand and retain relevant information, weigh up the options and then communicate a choice.  When we talk about Mental Capacity, it always relates to a specific decision at a specific time.  No person should ever be described as ‘lacking capacity’ in general terms or for all decisions.

What is a Mental Capacity Assessment?

A full bespoke Mental Capacity Assessment, carried out by a registered healthcare professional, will assess a person’s capacity to make a specific decision which may include, but is not limited to, one of the following:

  • COP3 – Mental Capacity Assessments for the Court of Protection

  • Make or amend a Will

  • Assign Lasting Power of Attorney

  • Litigate (e.g. divorce, sue)

  • Marry / have sex

  • Make treatment decisions

  • Make a gift / give a substantial donation

  • Challenge Best Interest decisions

  • Manage money

  • Decide living arrangements

If it is determined that an individual lacks a specific form of Mental Capacity at a particular point in time, they fall under the protection of the Mental Capacity Act (2005, 2019) in England and Wales.  This applies across a range of settings including home, education, care placements and beyond.  It is a vital safeguard that ensures individual Human Rights are protected and are not dismissed or ignored.  It also ensures professional best practice and a person-centred approach.

The purpose of the Mental Capacity Act (2005) is to uphold an individual’s rights, empower their voice and protect them from harm.  It applies to all people in England and Wales aged 16 and over who can’t make some or all decisions for themselves.

When should a Mental Capacity Assessment be completed?

If an individual’s capacity to make a specific decision is in reasonable doubt, or if they are unable to make a decision – for whatever reason – then it is a care professional’s responsibility to complete a Mental Capacity Assessment.

While any member of the public can carry out a Mental Capacity Assessment, in the case of complex decisions, or decisions that may involve disputes, or have high-risk consequences, then it is advised to consult a healthcare professional and/or an independent mental capacity assessor as appropriate.

Please note that there are other situations where a Mental Capacity Assessment may be completed, such as to help protect a decision from being challenged, as in the case of making a Will or Lasting Power of Attorney. Therefore, a Mental Capacity Assessment can help to protect their wishes in these circumstances.

The diagnostic process for dementia consists of an initial assessment which will include a comprehensive history and mental state examination, coupled wherever possible by collateral history from a friend or relative.  There will also be a standardised neuropsychological assessment at this time.

We work closely with our professional partners in situations where an assessment is required.  A full assessment can be arranged at any suitable location or even remotely.  

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