2nd August 2023
If you work with adults who may lack the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves, you know how challenging and complex it can be to apply the law and protect their rights and wishes. You may also know how important it is to keep your knowledge and skills up to date in this area, as the law and guidance change over time.
That’s why you may be interested in the Mental Capacity Toolkit, a free online resource that provides practical and accessible information and education on the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) and its implications for health and social care practice.
The MCA is a legal framework that sets out how to assess capacity and make decisions in the best interests of people aged 16 or over who cannot make decisions themselves. It also enables people to plan ahead for a time when they may lose capacity, by making Advance Decisions to Refuse Treatment or appointing someone to act on their behalf. The MCA aims to empower and protect people who may lack capacity, and to ensure that any decisions made for them respect their rights, dignity and preferences. However, applying the MCA in practice can be difficult, especially when there is uncertainty, disagreement or risk involved. That’s why health and social care professionals need to follow certain principles and processes when using the MCA.
The Mental Capacity Toolkit was developed by the National Centre for Post Qualifying Social Work at Bournemouth University, with funding from the Burdett Trust for Nursing. It is based on the latest legislation, guidance and research, and endorsed by relevant organisations such as the Office of the Public Guardian.
The toolkit covers various aspects of the MCA, such as:
- How to assess capacity and record your findings
- How to determine best interests and involve others in the decision making process
- How to deal with Advance Decisions to Refuse Treatment, Lasting Powers of Attorney and Court Appointed Deputies
- How to resolve disputes and seek support or advice
- How to use restraint and the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)
- How to apply the MCA in specific situations, such as end-of-life care, consent to treatment, safeguarding and research
The toolkit also provides case studies, checklists, templates and resources to help you apply the MCA in your practice. It is designed as both an information source and an educational resource. You can search for topics that interest you, or work through the toolkit section by section. Each section contains short videos, reflective exercises, key learning points and quizzes that you can use for your continuous professional development (CPD). You can also access more downloadable materials from ncpqsw.com.
The toolkit is a living instrument that is updated regularly and has space for further sections to be added. Sections currently under development include information on diversity in capacity practice and the law as it relates to children and young people. The toolkit will also be available as an app soon, making it even more accessible to busy health and social care professionals.
If you want to learn more about the MCA and how it affects your practice, you can also read the article “Introducing the Mental Capacity Act Toolkit” by Mike Lyne, Dr Sally Lee, Professor Lee-Ann Fenge, Emily Rosenorn-Lanng and Stevie Corbin-Clarke in the Journal of General Practice Nursing. The article explains the background and purpose of the toolkit, and how it can help you improve your knowledge and skills in this area.
The MCA is an essential part of good practice for health and social care professionals who work with adults who may lack capacity. By using the toolkit, you can ensure that you are following the law and providing high-quality care that respects the rights and wishes of your patients or clients.