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Mental Capacity Act (2005)

Insight and understanding: Elderly woman smiling as she looks into the distance

What is ‘understanding’?

At its most basic level, ‘understanding’ refers to ‘comprehension’ or ‘insight’ – the ability to apply knowledge to a specific topic or situation. However, in terms of the criteria for Mental Capacity Assessments, these definitions are perhaps a little broad. This is because when we test for capacity, we are not looking for an in-depth understanding of a specific topic, but rather an ability to ‘grasp’ the concept within the context of the individual’s own situation.

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Mental Capacity: Elderly lady watching video supported by nurse in mask.

New Mental Capacity webinars for 2022

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We are excited to announce the first dates for our new webinar series designed to raise awareness, strengthen skills and build confidence in applying the Mental Capacity Act (2005) in health and care settings. Each 3-hour session will look at the Mental Capacity Act as a whole including how to assess, what questions to ask, Best Interest decisions and the forthcoming Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS).

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Supporting capacity with augmentative communication aids

Supporting capacity with augmentative communication aids

There are many different forms of communication, both verbal and non-verbal in nature. While many of us will take communication for granted, others need a little more support. Thankfully there are a range of relatively low-tech aids available to support those with complex communication needs. These include Makaton, PECS and Talking Mats – all of which are put to good use across education and healthcare settings to promote inclusion and person-centred care.

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Communication is key: elderly couple sitting in the garden enjoying the sunshine

Communication to support capacity

Communication is an absolutely vital part of the Mental Capacity Act (2005). If we are to support capacity effectively then we should do everything in our power to ensure good, effective communication that is adapted to the needs of the service user. This may mean taking extra measures to aid the process of communication, to consider environmental and/or external factors, and also to make allowances for any fluctuations in an individual’s ability to understand.

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Central Middlesex Hospital, part of London NW University Hospital Trust

Patient dies as NHS Trust fails to comply with the MCA

On the 29th December 2021, Jenny Kitzinger and Celia Kitzinger shared a challenging and troubling case on the website Open Justice Court of Protection.  This case demonstrates the lack of knowledge and application of the Mental Capacity Act (2005) by London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust, who continue to be rated as ‘Requires Improvement’ by the Care Quality Commission

In this case, the patient, Mrs W had her nasogastric tube removed by medical staff on 10th November 2021. Mrs W had previously assigned the role of Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) for Health and Welfare to her children. However, her children were not consulted in this process, and the clinicians declined to reinstate the feeding tube when challenged. The Trust then proceeded to withdraw hydration from Mrs W as well.

Read More »Patient dies as NHS Trust fails to comply with the MCA