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Mental Capacity in Practice

The Mental Capacity Act in practice.

Patient consulting with doctor

Capacity Assessments: Professionalism, Accountability and Best Practice

A recent case held before the Court of Protection highlighted issues around the way that Mental Capacity Assessments are completed. In her conclusions, Mrs Justice Knowles highlighted the important role played by the Assessor – emphasising the need for accountability in the process, and for the Assessor to take professional measures to establish the salient information relating to the case the case.

Contact meeting between relevant person and their representative

How many stages are there in a Mental Capacity Assessment?

According to the Mental Capacity Act (2005), a Mental Capacity Assessment is made up of two stages, functional and diagnostic. It has therefore been referred to as the ‘two-stage’ test. However, a quick browse online, alongside discussion with different professionals, reveals quite a bit of misunderstanding around how many stages there are and when these stages apply. This is perhaps due to the inconsistent way that assessments are referred to by certain institutions and professional bodies. There also seems to be some confusion between the four steps of the functional stage of an assessment, and the two stages of the overall assessment.

Clearly, terminology is important, and we should make efforts to ensure we are always using the correct terms.