Let’s get clear on capacity

October 17, 2017 8:35 am

With ‘capacity’ often acing as a blanket term, it’s easy to assume the Mental Capacity Act of 2005 is equally broad. However, this really isn’t the case, and it’s important to remember that someone may have capacity in one area of their lives, but not another.

At Frontier Support, our support workers are careful to not just assume incapacity, and instead, they encourage and empower the people they support to make their own decisions, and have as much autonomy in their lives as possible. Making decisions, even if they’re eccentric or unwise, is a person’s right per the Mental Capacity Act, and unless these decisions are unsafe or damaging, we should presume capacity.

All sound a bit confusing? To help make the idea of capacity more accessible, we’ve broken the Mental Capacity Act down into five key principles, and a four-point capacity test, which we’ve printed on some handy cards as a reminder for all our support workers. The five key Mental Capacity Act principles are:

  1. Presume capacity
  2. Support the person before doubting capacity
  3. Remember that people are entitled to make unwise/eccentric decisions
  4. Make decisions in the person’s best interests
  5. Make decisions that are the least restrictive

We really hope that by making the Mental Capacity Act so accessible, through our pocket-sized and jargon-free cards, we can help to increase general understanding that capacity is not a blanket term, but rather something that must be firstly presumed, and then monitored on a situation by situation basis.

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We are a support provider for people with learning disabilities in the UK. If you, or a friend or relative, are struggling with a mental health issue then you need to speak to your GP. MIND and SAMARITIANS are good sources of information. In crisis, the best port of call is the Emergency Services.

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