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Important updates to Form COP3 ‘assessment of capacity’

Mental capacity assessment: female professional assessing elderly gentleman

As of July 2023 there is now a new updated COP3 form (‘assessment of capacity’ for Court of Protection Submissions) available on the UK Government website. We have a growing range of blogs around this topic and area able to provide completition of Part B on referral. For a walkthrough guide of the updated document, please visit.

Form COP3 – Overview of changes

Updated COP3 (July 2023)
Contextual informationPart A (Section 1) has been re-ordered, starting with ‘the person’ that the application refers to. It also adds that ‘the person’ will henceforth be referred to as such.  

This section is now far more concise and to the point, reducing the need to provide unnecessary information.

Sections 3-4 then provide a full-page box for both accessibility and support needs, as well as contextual information of relevance, which is a positive step forward.  
Format and practicality of the formThe updated COP3 gives the practitioner specific direction to ensure a full balanced assessment of relevant information. However, several sections have also been removed, such as evidence considered and opposing views.    

The format of the new updated document remains quite limited in terms of space to document and record the assessment. This requires the professional be highly selective in what to include and how the report is worded, with limited space for examples around how the individual has responded to questioning.      
Practitioner informationPart B (Section 4) now includes the re-located section on the assessor’s details, including the nature of the professional working relationship with the person.  
Decision being addressedPart A (Section 2) now clearly states the requirement for the decision(s) to be addressed. This remedies some of the previous issues with the old COP3 form.  
Supported capacityAs stated above, there is now a box in Part A (Section 3.1) for the applicant to provide their own perspective on recommended support for the person being assessed.  

A further far smaller box is then provided for the practitioner to describe and justify what adjustments they have made in order to support capacity during the assessment in Part B (Section 6.6).  

This change has certainly been long needed. However, as with other sections of the form, there is still arguably limited space to allow for greater detail to be given by the assessor.    
Context of the assessmentSection 6.10 now gives the space to give information on the context of the assessment, should it have been conducted remotely.  

However, there is not sufficient prompt or structure to the form for the assessor to note down other important contextual information, such as date, time, persons present, length of the assessment, environmental influence (etc.)      
Threshold of capacitySection 5.1 now provides a clear and direct space in order for the practitioner to establish the base line of relevant information required for the specific information being addressed. This allows the reader to understand what is being discussed and supported within the interview, thus helping ensure no important areas have been overlooked – adding to the validity the assessment.  
Functional stepThe new COP3 form has been updated to reflect the new order of the two-stage test – as seen in Section 6. This has an improved new description that stipulates the practitioner to identify the areas of the decision they can or cannot demonstrate alongside the set boxes of yes/no.  

The challenge here, continues to be that the space provided remains very limited. This means the practitioner is forced to carefully consider what elements of the assessment are necessary to include in the form or leave out. This requires a high level of professional discernment.    
Diagnostic stepThis has now been relocated in line with case law, sitting in Part B (Section 6.8). The wording is clear and directive, but again, there is limited space.  
Prospect of regaining capacity for this specific decision(s).This is again separate from the diagnostic step, found in Part B (Section 6.11).
Causative NexusThis is amalgamated into the diagnostic step within a limited sized box.  
Evidence consideredThis section appears to have been removed. However, I would still recommend this information be included by professionals within Section 6.7.  
Relevant person viewsThis has been kept and is found in Section 12.
Opposing viewsThis is no longer present within the form. However, it would be good professional practice to include this information in Section 6.7 is alternative viewpoints are known.  
Recommendations and further relevant informationSection 6.7 now includes space for any professional recommendations that could or should be considered to support capacity. There is then an additional box in Section 6.13 which has an improved wording and clarity.  
ConclusionNow titled ‘Statement of Truth’ this is found at the end of the assessment in Section 7 with two very clearly worded statements given above space for the assessor’s signature and date.  
Updates to Form COP3: An overview of changes

Help with COP3 forms

For support with COP3, and advice on how to bring your assessments up to the new standard, please do get in touch. As professional Mental Capacity assessors and trainers, we can provide a range of support services for you, from conducting assessments to consultancy and training for you and your team.

Whatever your need, we can support you. For more information, please see our services page. You can also contact us directly.

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