Why’s the Mental Capacity Act important for care organisations?

Why’s the Mental Capacity Act important for care organisations?A Sussex care home was recently given a rating of ‘requires improvement’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Among its criticisms, the CQC reported that some of the home’s staff lacked understanding of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. The CQC also said staff didn’t have good enough knowledge of a key principle of the act – the need for ‘best interest decisions’.

Employers are responsible for making sure their staff are trained in implementing the act. This case highlights how important it is that care providers understand the implications of the Act.

So, what is the act?

It’s a law designed to protect people over 16 in England and Wales, when they’re unable to make decisions for themselves. In other words, when they lack mental capacity.

This could be because of a mental health problem, dementia, a learning disability, a stroke or substance misuse.

The act aims to help people make as many decisions for themselves as possible. This means giving them all the support they might need to make a decision. For instance, providing them with all the relevant information they need to make a decision and in a way that they understand. This might mean using photos or videos to explain a situation.

The act covers everyday choices like what to wear or eat, through to more important decisions like to where to live and how to deal with finances and property.

Anyone who works with or provides care or treatment for people who lack capacity, needs to keep the act’s ‘five principles’ in mind at all times:

  • Assume that a person can make their own decision until you find out otherwise
  • Give someone as much support as possible to make a decision
  • Just because you consider the decision to be unwise, it doesn’t mean they lack capacity
  • If someone can’t make a decision for themselves, you must act in their best interests
  • When you make a decision for someone, it must restrict their rights and freedoms as little as possible

Redcrier’s Mental Capacity Act training can help your staff develop a better understanding of the Act and how to implement it.

It covers the aims of the Act, including who it’s relevant to, how to identify if someone’s able to make a decision, and what’s meant by the term ‘best interests’.  The training material also covers Deprivation of Liberties  Safeguards (DoLS.)