Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to evaluate health professionals' fidelity to the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) principles on determining mental capacity and arriving at best interests decisions in the care of individuals found to lack the relevant decision‐making capacity. Design/methodology/approach – A retrospective review of the case records of 68 patients previously determined by clinicians as lacking mental capacity in at least one of three identified areas: treatment consenting capacity, capacity to decide on place of abode and capacity to manage financial affairs, was conducted. Notes were examined to determine how mental capacity was assessed and the process of arriving at best interests decisions in the care of the non‐capacitous individuals. Findings – It was difficult to locate relevant entries as there were no designated folders for MCA related issues. There were (mostly) minimal entries made about the assessment process, only patchy documentation of the legal criteria used in capacity assessment, and which of the criteria the patient did not fulfil. Clinicians only partially followed the procedure prescribed by the MCA in determining best interests of non‐capacitous patients. Originality/value – This paper highlights the need for health care professionals to better adhere to the principles of the MCA in assessing mental capacity and in determining the best interests of non‐capacitous individuals. Health care professionals and the public need to be better informed of the provisions of the MCA.
Quality in Ageing and Older Adults – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 16, 2011
Keywords: Mental Capacity Act; Best interests; Health care professionals; Mental capacity assessment; Health care; Mental illness
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