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 (2005) provides a framework for assessing a person’s 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. It’s one of 6 different tests and there are some decisions where common law tests may continue to apply. It’s imperative that those who assess 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 we are assessing whether the person has capacity to make. 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 of the Act.
The most common being;
We can also assess the capacity of children in certain circumstances where the Act permits. These are;
Our experience of working with children with learning disabilities and cognitive impairments spans back to 2005 and we understand the different approaches required when assessing the capacity of adults or children. We also understand that communication is key to helping someone make decisions for themselves. That’s why we do all we can to identify appropriate communication methods for the person involved.