The government will fund the development of a toolkit to help social workers and other professionals improve supported decision-making in mental capacity cases.
A £12,000 contract to produce a ‘supported decision-making toolkit’ by March 2016 is one of three Mental Capacity Act (MCA)-related resources that the Department of Health is inviting organisations to develop. The other two resources are a mental capacity toolkit for GPs, which will receive up to £12,000 funding, and a £4,000 grant for an organisation to update its existing MCA guidance documents.
Supported decision-making is one of the key principles of the MCA. It is based on the requirement for professionals to not treat a person as if they are unable to make a decision unless all practical steps have been taken to help them to do so. Despite its importance to the Act, a 2014 House of Lords report on MCA implementation found that supported decision-making was “rare in practice”.
“Capacity assessments are not often carried out; when they are, the quality is often poor. Supported decision-making, and the adjustments required to enable it, are not well embedded,” the report concluded.
The DH hopes that the development of the ‘supported decision making toolkit’ will help improve practice by giving practitioners best practice examples, accessible guidance and new templates for recording and providing information. The DH also wants the toolkit to be able to be used by carers and family members.
Organisations can submit applications to produce each of the MCA three resources until the 30 September. All of the resources are expected to be completed by March next year.
The DH said the contracts were an attempt to address a number of gaps in resources that had been identified in a review carried out by the Social Care Institute for Excellence following the House of Lords report. The resource gaps were “impeding” Mental Capacity Act implementation and were “not being addressed” by partner organisations.