There may be situations where you will have to make an assessment of an individual’s capacity. Often, you may have to make one when an individual is unable to make a particular decision at a specific time. There are five key principles you should follow when assessing capacity. These are:
- Always assume that the person can make their own decision.
- Ensure all possible support is provided to make sure the person can make their own decision.
- Do not assume someone cannot make a decision because you feel they are making an unwise or unsafe decision.
- If it has been identified that the person cannot make a decision, someone can make a decision that is deemed to be in that person’s best interest.
- If a person makes a decision on behalf of the individual, this must be the least restrictive option.
Your mental capacity assessment should be specific to that particular decision and you should apply the principles to individual decisions. While the individual may lack the capacity to make one decision, they may still be capable of making other decisions, so you should keep this in mind while doing your assessment.
You should also help an individual to make “advance statements” if their mental capacity is deteriorating. The purpose of these is to enable an individual to make choices and decisions about their future care in case there comes a time when they are not able to make these decisions for themselves. This ensures that individuals only receive care and treatment that they wish to receive.