Mental capacity assessments play a crucial role in determining whether an individual is able to understand, retain, use, weigh and communicate relevant information in order to be able to make a specific decision. Continue reading as we will explore the concept of mental capacity, delve into the process of mental capacity assessments, discuss their importance, and highlight key considerations.
What is Mental Capacity?
Mental capacity refers to an individual’s ability to understand, retain, and use information to make decisions that impact on their life. Assessment of mental capacity is always in relation to a specific decision: a person may have mental capacity to make one particular decision but not for another type of decision. Often this is dependent on the complexity and amount of information that a person needs to understand in order to make that decision.
At TSF, we use the term “threshold of understanding” to set out what a person might need to understand in order to make the specific decision. As well as understanding relevant information, a person will need to be able to consider and weigh the pros and cons of different options or of making the decision, and the consequences and risks attached to it. A person’s mental capacity can fluctuate so it is important to assess someone at a time when they are most likely to be able to make the decision in question, where this is possible, particularly for “one off” decisions.
The Mental Capacity Assessment Process
At TSF, you will be allocated a Client Liaison Officer who will be your point of contact from initial enquiry through to receipt of your completed mental capacity assessment report. The Client Liaison Officer will assist you in gathering relevant background and referral information so that the assessor has a good understanding themselves of the exact decision that the person needs to make. All of our mental capacity assessments are completed by qualified and registered health professionals, such as nurses, social workers, speech and language therapists and occupational therapists.
The assessment ‘interview’ is based around a conversation, with the assessor asking questions to ascertain whether the person is able to understand, use, weigh, retain and communicate relevant information in order to be able to make the decision in question. Therefore, the majority of questions that the assessor will ask are questions relevant to the decision that needs to be made (the decision for which the person is being assessed). For example, in a property and financial mental capacity assessment, the conversation between the assessor and the individual will focus on questions relevant to how the person is able to manage their money; what they understand about the banking process and how money is kept safe; what they understand about their income, outgoings and budgeting; their understanding of relative values; using GBP currency and consequences of getting into debt.
The Importance of Mental Capacity Assessments
It should always be assumed that a person has capacity to make a decision. This is the starting point of any mental capacity assessment. However, where there is a question mark over a person’s ability to make a specific decision, due to them not being able to understand, retain, use or weigh relevant information or communicate their decision, and where that person has a cognitive impairment (this does not have to be a diagnosed impairment), a mental capacity assessment should be undertaken to ascertain whether the person is able to make the decision in question.
If the outcome of the assessment is that the person has capacity to make the decision, our reports will evidence this and the person can proceed with making the decision. If the outcome of the assessment is that the person lacks capacity to make the decision in question, then our reports can then be used to evidence an outcome of lack of capacity. In such circumstances, if proceeding with the decision in question, this would need to be made in the person’s best interests.
If it is found that a person does not have capacity to act in a specific role, such as acting as an executor or trustee, then a legal professional can assist with appointing someone else to carry out this role. If the person is not able to make a Will or manage their own finances, then it may be that an application to the Court of Protection is necessary so that a statutory Will can be made or to appoint a Deputy to manage the person’s finances in their best interests. If the person is not able to make a decision about an equity release mortgage but has a valid LPA, then their attorney would be able to make this decision on their behalf. If a person lacks capacity to litigate in legal proceedings, then our assessment would provide evidence that would enable a Litigation Friend to be appointed to ligate on behalf of that person.
What makes Mental Capacity Assessments from TSF different?
Sometimes a person will require specific support to facilitate communication or to aid understanding. Our assessors are skilled at tailoring assessments according to the support needs of each individual person, ensuring that Principle 2 of the Mental Capacity Act is adhered to (that individuals should be supported to make their own decisions wherever possible). This might mean that a person needs to have visual prompts or communication aids to hand, is able to write down information or view information in a simplified or pictoral format to aid understanding. Our assessments are always person-centred and tailored to an individual’s specific circumstances.
An assessment can be completed either face-to-face or virtually via video-link. As well as the conversation with the person who needs to make the decision in question, the assessment may also include consultation with family members or caregivers, in order to obtain as full a picture as possible of how the person is able to function day to day where they may be faced with having to make decisions relevant to the matter being assessed. The assessor then carefully documents their findings, either in a letter, summary report or full report format (as instructed by the client) which will evidence whether the person has capacity to make the decision in question.
Face-to-face and video link assessments
Our team of expert Mental Capacity Assessors conducts both face to face and remote video-link assessments across England and Wales. We are qualified and experienced in assessing a person’s mental capacity on a wide range of specific decisions.
What We Do
“Very professional with a quick turnaround and great manner putting clients at their ease to get the best from them and help them make decisions where they are able”
“I cannot recommend TSF highly enough for all of the background information prior to the assessment, and the calm and very natural approach of the assessor which immediately put my client at ease”
Jennifer, John and Ronald
“The CoP Deputy Court Order has now been issued and we would like to express our thanks for your prompt and competent service. It has been a pleasure to do business with TSF.”
“Thank you for coming and making my father feel so comfortable and being so patient. Your service provides a friendly and relaxed, yet professional approach to what otherwise could be perceived as a somewhat complex and daunting process.”
Thank you for your assistance in this matter. I am really pleased with the service provided and will certainly recommend you to future clients.
Meet the team
Client Liaison Officer
Mental Capacity Assessor
Mental Capacity Assessor
Mental Capacity Assessor
I am a Registered Learning Disability Nurse. I have over ten years of experience working with individuals with impaired cognitive states and reduced mental capacity. I have specialist skills in working effectively with people struggling with communication difficulties and in supporting them to make their own decisions. I am committed to empowering people so that they are able to live their own life as fully as possible.
I have been working as a Mental Capacity Assessor for TSF Assessments since 2019. This role has allowed me to further develop my skills, so that I am now proficient at assessing mental capacity for a broad range of financial and legal decisions.
Since 2020, I have also been working as a senior lecturer in Learning Disabilities Nursing on a university undergraduate nursing degree course. I teach on a range of subjects, including using the Mental Capacity Act in practice.
Mental Capacity Assessor
My name is Mary Hawes, I am a mental capacity assessor and part of the team at TSF. I began my career by training as a primary school teacher and then worked in a children’s home for seven years. I returned home to Buckinghamshire where I was employed as the deputy manager in a residential care home for adults with learning difficulties which inspired me to retrain a social worker. I then managed small residential homes for a national charity for people with learning disabilites. I progressed to work in the quality management of residential and supported living services before working for a local authority as a senior social worker.
I joined TSF in 2018 and since then I have met a wide range of people and have completed numerous assessments covering a range of decisions including, litigation, property and finance, health and welfare, capacity to gift as well as capacity to decide where to reside. I have also attended court and completed reports for the Court of Protection.