by Professor Jill Manthorpe, director of the Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London
You may find an essay on mental capacity a little hard to start initially but it will be of great value to you as the subject comes up time and again in social work practice with adults. One first task is to establish what the question is expecting: is this an outline of the law in practice? If so, the Code of Practice (PDF), the SCIE website and recent articles focusing on practice are easily accessible. The SCIE website contains the DH training materials on the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (England and Wales) and these are helpful if you missed the teaching or want a refresher.
There are many facets to an essay on mental capacity if it is practice focused. The first element will likely be assessment, and the Code of Practice (PDF) sets out clearly the main elements here.
But the question may relate to advocacy and communication – in which case you will need to touch upon adult safeguarding but also rights of self-determination.
Restraint is not the only item covered by the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards so touch on this but think more broadly. You may also find it helpful to discuss the difficulties but also the benefits of acting in someone’s best interests. Ethical debates and dilemmas are part and parcel of this topic.
There are therefore three main risks in an essay about mental capacity:
– not being clear on the law
– touching upon too much and getting muddled in the process
– presuming that social workers are central to the process. In many ways they are not, so a social work essay needs to tread that fine line of knowing but not claiming the territory.
Do you have questions about essays? Get advice from fellow students on CareSpace
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