Research Abstract: Assessing Capacity

Title: The impact of context on assessments of mental capacity by psychiatrists
Author: Olumoroti, Olumuyiwa John; Kassim, Akim; Hotopf, Matthew
Reference: Journal of Mental Health, 16(4), August 2007, pp521- 528

This study looks to determine the proportion of consultant psychiatrists who judge a self-harming patient described in a vignette likely to have mental capacity, and to test the hypothesis that judgements are influenced by contextual factors which should not necessarily influence capacity. 404 consultant psychiatrists were randomised to receive one of four vignettes describing a woman who took a serious paracetamol overdose and required liver transplantation. 49% of participants thought that the patient lacked mental capacity. There was found to be no statistically significant effect of vignette on judgement of mental capacity. Psychiatric speciality of the participants influenced capacity judgements, with older psychiatrists being least likely to judge her as lacking capacity (36%) and psychotherapists being most likely to do so (80%).

Title: Mental capacity and family practitioners
Ashton, Gordon
Reference: Family Law, Volume 37, March 2007, pp231-236

Family practitioners encounter people with mental disabilities more often than they may realise. The condition may be temporary or permanent. It is important to recognise a condition at an early stage as its existence may affect the handling and outcome of any proceedings, but it also may be appropriate for advice to be given about claiming state benefits or accessing community care services. The author discusses the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and how it will affect family practitioners.

Title: The first legal right to advocacy
Author: Gorczynska, Teresa
Reference: Working with Older People, 11(1), March 2007, pp17-20

The Mental Capacity Act places a duty on local authorities and the NHS to refer people who may lack capacity to make decisions about serious medical treatment or about a change in accommodation to an IMCA service. This article describes the experiences and lessons learned in Croydon.

Title: The Bournewood provision
Author: Dow, John
Reference: Journal of Integrated Care, 15(1), February 2007, pp34-36

Councils and PCTs will have new responsibilities under amendments to the Mental Capacity Act, proposed in the Mental Health Bill introduced in November 2006. Under the proposals, care homes and hospitals will need to obtain authorisation form the local authority or the PCT if it is considered necessary to deprive a person lacking capacity of their liberty in order to provide care or treatment.

Title: Empowering you: the Mental Capacity Act 2005
Author: Office of the Public Guardian 2007

The report is based on a survey carried out by Ipsos MORI for Scie earlier this year. It shows public attitudes towards planning ahead in advance of the Mental Capacity Act and illustrates how the Act safeguards the interests of people who may lack the capacity to make decisions for themselves, now or in the future. Most people in England and Wales felt it was important their wishes should be respected with regard to how they themselves and their finances should be looked after – and about who should be able to make these decisions should they lose the mental capacity to do so themselves. However, less than a third said they had thought about and made preparation to ensure that they themselves and their finances would be looked after should they lose the mental capacity to do so themselves.


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