Hospitals are treating patients with dementia unlawfully by failing to apply safeguards for those who lack capacity to consent, Scotland’s mental health watchdog said today.
Few people with dementia had their capacity to consent to treatment assessed or recorded in hospital, the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland said in its report, Dementia; Decisions for Dignity.
Even fewer had a certificate of incapacity, which is required for people who lack the capacity to consent to treatment, under the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000.
“If people with dementia cannot give valid consent and no certificate has been completed, their treatment does not comply with the law,” the report said. “Unfortunately, it appears to us that very few practitioners correctly applied the law on medical treatment for adults with incapacity.”
Proper procedures needed to be followed to ensure treatment was lawful, and capacity to consent should be regularly reviewed, the report said.
Many people with dementia were discharged straight from hospital into a care home, despite having lived in their own homes before admission, the report found.
It said “robust systems” needed to be put in place to review decisions to discharge people into a care home, to ensure people were given sufficient support to return home if possible.
However, though the watchdog raised 15 points for improvement, it stressed that much of the care provided for people with dementia in general hospital settings was good.
The commission visited almost 200 people with dementia in 41 general hospital wards for older people across Scotland between September and December 2010.
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