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Assessing complex cases: Disabled man using eye tracking software

Mental capacity assessments for complex decisions

In this blog, we will work through an example mental capacity assessment for an individual making a complex decision. This case study is based on a real-life example reviewed in the wake of the Covid pandemic. At each stage we will present the information as it was presented to us, followed by specific comment relating to the assessment process and steps that could and in some cases should have been taken to improve the quality of outcomes.

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Retaining information: man looking out of window

What is retention?

When it comes to Mental Capacity Assessments, ‘retention’ refers to an individual’s ability to recollect relevant information relating to a specific decision. However, in assessing for retention, it is also important to take into account the second principle of the Mental Capacity Act, which states that we should actively support capacity wherever possible. Therefore, as assessors, we should provide sufficient support to enable retention where possible – be it through labelled items, social stories, easy read guides or so on.

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Man with learning disability getting married

Example Mental Capacity Assessments

When I have sought to learn more about the Mental Capacity Act (2005), I have found a unexpected lack of information on precisely how to complete an assessment. Having attended many courses on Mental Capacity in my time, it still surprises me just how many courses fail to even set out what to ask, how much to record, what information is relevant and what to do next.

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