At Birdie, we're working on making our care management software as valuable as possible. We're always listening to feedback on how we can best support our agency partners to assess their clients, and we were delighted to announce the launch of our Mental Capacity Assessment last spring.
Every adult has the right to make their own decisions - whether that be choosing what to wear or eat, to deciding how to manage their finances. The Mental Capacity Act emphasises that people must be assumed to have capacity to make decisions for themselves, and Birdie’s Mental Capacity Assessment provides a helpful framework for reviewing this, if there are any doubts. This was an important feature for us to build because it empowers and safeguards individuals who may be - or go on to be - unable to make a decision because of an illness or impairment.
Who can assess whether someone has mental capacity?
It is a common misconception that mental capacity can only be assessed by clinical professionals. In fact, "anyone caring for or supporting a person who may lack capacity can carry out an assessment" (SCIE) if they feel comfortable to do so.
When assessing more complex decisions or when capacity is not clear, you may wish to get a specialist opinion. Our Mental Capacity Assessment gives you the possibility to document if this is the case, so that you can revisit the decision once you have reached a conclusion.
Whatever decision you're evaluating, be it the capacity to manage their finances or choose their own clothing, be sure to give the client as much support as possible to make the decision for themselves.This might mean adjusting the way that you communicate information to them, or helping them to understand the consequences of their decision.
Capacity is decision and time specific
It is important that the decision you are assessing capacity for is specific. This is because someone can lack capacity to make one decision (e.g. managing their money), but have capacity to make others (e.g. choosing what to wear in the morning). Try to be as specific as possible when carrying out a Mental Capacity Assessment, rather than assessing overarching decisions such as 'the capacity to make decisions’. Additionally, although someone lacks capacity to make a decision on one occasion, this does not mean that they will never have capacity to make a decision in the future, or about a different matter. Assessments should be undertaken regularly to ensure that you always have an up to date log.
How does the Mental Capacity Assessment work?
We’ve designed our digital Mental Capacity Assessment using information from the Mental Capacity Act and CQC guidance. It’s a simple form that allows you to complete an individual assessment for each decision that you are reviewing. You can complete as many of these assessments as you need to, and create new versions as required.
We don’t force you to fill in boxes or complete certain elements, instead, we give you the freedom to make each assessment person-centred.
You can find the Mental Capacity Assessment on the care plan page of your client's profile:
Remember - try to be as specific as possible, for example:
- To manage payment of bills;
- To choose what clothes to wear; or
- To refuse care or treatment
Once you have done this, the assessment guides you through a set of questions to help determine if the client has capacity, alongside any accompanying information.
A person may lack capacity to make a specific decision if any of the following are not true:
- The person understands the information they need to make the decision.
- The person can retain that information for enough time to be able to make the decision.
- The person can weigh up the information they have in order to make a decision.
- The person can communicate the decision in some way - for example, verbalising their decision or nodding their head.
Once you have answered the questions in the assessment, you should then be able to determine whether or not your client has the capacity to make the decision stated. You should be able to evidence in your records about how you have come to the conclusion, giving you a clear evidence trail. When you save your assessment, you will be able to view the outcome along with all supporting information. This information is easily accessible for you, your carers, or CQC inspectors to review.
If you don’t feel you can make a definitive decision on your client’s mental capacity, you can simply choose ‘unsure’ at the end of the assessment. You can then seek a second opinion who can help to take a definitive decision.
You can always complete a new assessment for a different decision or if the client's circumstances change. Keeping a log of these Mental Capacity Assessments over time will help to show that you have been responsive to any fluctuations that impact the client's capacity.
You can keep up to date with our latest developments over on our What's New blog.
Why not read more about digital care planning and how it can help your business, here. We run through some of the key benefits that you'll notice from moving from paper to digital, and share success stories from two of our partners who have seen an improvement in their CQC rating since joining Birdie.
Want to see Birdie in action and get an even closer look at our Mental Capacity Assessment? Book a free consultation, here.