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Mental Capacity in Practice

The Mental Capacity Act in practice.

Two women interviewing / assessing a person wearing a checked yellow shirt.

The six key assessments for DoLS

The Code of Practice for DoLS (2008) directs that wherever possible, DoLS authorisations should be applied for in advance of a hospital or care home admission, in order to ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place from day one. As such, a DoLS application should really be made at the point where the individual is assessed prior to admittance, in order that the application be processed in time.

Care in the home: carer helping elderly lady down the stairs

DoLS in focus: The role of the Managing Authority (MA)

Under DoLS, the Managing Authority (MA) is the nursing/care home or hospital providing (or going to provide) care and treatment for the relevant person. The responsibilities of the MA are outlined within the Code of Practice for DoLS (2008) and expanded on through Court of Protection (CoP) case law.

These documents require that the Managing Authority carry out its responsibilities with due care and diligence, with appropriate consultation. All decisions and actions taken should be fully documented as part of professional best practice.

UK Parliament

New official statistics for DoLS cases, 2022-23

NHS Digital has published national statistics for DoLS cases for the period April 2022 to March 2023. The report reveals that:

  • There were an estimated 300,765 requests for authorisations during 2022-23, up 11% on the previous year
  • There were 289,150 authorisations completed in 2022-23, while 126,100 remain uncompleted as of the end of the year
  • Of all DoLS applications, 56% of applications were not granted, mostly due to either change of circumstances, misapplication (requiring a community DoLS or Inherent Jurisdiction) or not meeting the assessment criteria
  • The statutory 21-day timeframe for authorisations was only met in 19% of cases
Care in the home: young lady helping older woman with walking sticks

Occupational Therapy and Mental Capacity

In Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal, we meet the main character Moist von Lipwig as he tries to dig his way out of prison using a broken spoon. Just when he thinks he’s about to reach freedom, von Lipwig discovers that it isn’t the end at all, and that someone has hidden a brand-new spoon for him inside the wall in order that he carry on digging. This is because Lord Vetinari likes to provide ‘Occupational Therapy’ to all his inmates!

While Terry Pratchett’s wonderful satire doesn’t paint Occupational Therapy (OT) in a wholly positive light, though very entertaining, it does give some small insight into the sort of ‘purposeful activity’ that can be used to aid recovery, support identity and help people maintain cognitive and physical function.

Elderly man with head in his hands

Mental Capacity: Is choice the same as freedom?

If an adult in care can only select from a limited number of closed options, then do they really have what we might describe as ‘choice’?

Lucy Series argues that in many ways, we have come on a long way from the outmoded restrictive institutions of old. However, there are many new modern-age deprivations that have risen in their place. For example, many care homes will enforce a certain structure to the day in order to enable the cost-effective provision of meals, activities, and personal care support. In doing so, they are restricting natural choices and freedoms, while also enacting a system of close monitoring.

Contact meeting between relevant person and their representative

The rule 1.2 representative process explained

In Mental Capacity law, a rule 1.2 representative (or ‘1.2 rep’) performs a similar role to a Relevant Person’s Representative (RPR), but in a community setting.

The process for assigning a 1.2 rep is slightly different to that of an RPR. This is because community DoLS authorisations are authorised through the Court of Protection, and not by the Local Authority DoLS office, as is the case in hospital and care home settings.  And so a 1.2 rep will be identified and allocated through this process by those applying and agreed by the Court.