Mental Capacity Assessments
At Nellie Supports, all our mental capacity assessments adhere to the guidelines set forth in the Mental Capacity Act (2005) and the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill (2019). We offer a comprehensive range of assessments tailored to adults, children, and young people, including decision-specific and retrospective evaluations. Our person-centred approach prioritises helping individuals make informed decisions and access the necessary support while safeguarding vulnerable individuals. We recognise the significance of these assessments for all parties involved and strive to complete them promptly to ensure peace of mind for everyone. Count on our expertise to deliver professional and efficient mental capacity assessments that make a positive difference in the lives of those we serve.
What decisions can we assess mental capacity for?
Your Questions Answered
What is a mental capacity assessment?
A mental capacity assessment helps us evaluate someone's ability to make a certain decision. The level of understanding needed for different decisions is outlined in the Mental Capacity Act (2005), or through precedent set by case law – like Banks v Goodfellow, which deals with creating Wills.
Contrary to popular belief, a mental capacity assessment isn't always a test; rather, it's simply a conversation we have with someone. We do our very best not to put excess pressure on the individual so they feel free and comfortable expressing themselves honestly.
What to expect in a mental capacity assessment
Our mental capacity assessments usually take around an hour and our friendly, experienced social workers do their best to make sure it’s a comfortable and relaxed experience. We’re accredited expert mental capacity assessors, so you’re in good hands.
Why is decision-specific mental capacity assessment so important?
A person’s mental capacity to make decisions can change, depending on their specific situation and health condition. Someone may need help with a specific decision, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t make other kinds of decision for themselves.
Who can complete a mental capacity assessment?
In cases involving complex or major decisions you may need to get a professional opinion. The mental capacity assessor must be an impartial, qualified professional, such as a doctor, nurse, or social worker.
Can we complete video-link or face to face mental capacity assessments?
We can visit you in your own home or any other suitable space you feel most comfortable and at a time of your choosing. In those instances where face-to-face mental capacity assessments aren't viable, we offer a fully secure video-link mental capacity assessment service. With the implementation of the Mental Capacity Amendment Bill (2019), we continue to provide video-link assessments, albeit as a last option and with a valid reason, duly recorded as evidence within our court-compliant reports
Social Work England is a specialist body taking a new approach to regulating social workers in their vital roles. All of our Social Workers are registered with Social Work England for your peace of mind.
Our assessors are accredited Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) assessors with specific experience in completing capacity assessments and specialist reports.
All of our assessors have undergone extra training to become accredited financial vulnerability experts according to Lichtenberg standards, so they can provide even more detailed reports on mental capacity.
Mikes Dad, Jim, lived with a diagnosis of dementia. Mike had been helping out with odd jobs since his Mum passed away, but with his Dad’s diagnosis, he wanted to ensure he was able to continue to support him.
Mike approached a local solicitor to create lasting power of attorney, however as there was concerns about Jim's capacity they required a mental capacity assessment completing. Mike initially approached his dad's GP, but they advised they couldn't help, the same response was had from the local authority.
When Mike approached us he was stressed and frustrated at not being able to move forward, after a short call with our admin support one of our Social Workers met with Jim and Mike at Jims home to discuss both lasting power of attorney for finance and health and to ensure Jim understood both decisions.
To ensure that Jim’s was supported in his decisions making and to ensure his wishes were upheld we completed two separate mental capacity assessments, one for whether Jim had the sufficient mental capacity to grant lasting power of attorney for finances and a second for whether he had sufficient mental capacity grant lasting power of attorney for health.
The mental capacity assessments took place at Jim’s home and were a relaxed affair with plenty of tea and biscuits, Jim later told his son he didn’t feel like it was a mental capacity assessment, it felt like a natural conversation.
During the mental capacity assessments, Jim was able to show his understanding of the relevant information, his ability to use the information and was able to retain it long enough to communicate effective decisions. Jim was fine to make these decisions, and we had the evidence of his mental capacity assessments to ensure his wishes and decisions were not contested in the future.
Mental capacity a comprehensive guide
Around two million individuals in England and Wales are estimated to be unable to make decisions for themselves, resulting in approximately six million people, including a wide array of health and social care professionals, plus unpaid caregivers, supporting them.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is involved in a mental capacity assessment?
The MCA sets out a 2-stage test of capacity:
1) Is the person unable to make a particular decision? The MCA (Mental Capacity Act) stipulates that an individual lacks the capacity to make their own decisions if they are incapable of performing any of the following four tasks:
Understand information given to them
Retain that information long enough to be able to make the decision
Weigh up the information available to make the decision
Communicate their decision – this could be by talking, using sign language or even simple muscle movements such as blinking an eye or squeezing a hand.
2) Is the inability to make a decision caused by an impairment of, or disturbance in the functioning of, a person's mind or brain?
People can lack capacity to make some decisions, but have capacity to make others. Mental capacity can also fluctuate with time – someone may lack capacity at one point in time, but may be able to make the same decision at a later point in time.
How do I get a private mental capacity assessment?
The person's doctor or local authority social worker may be able to complete a mental capacity assessment; however, there can be lengthy delays, and depending on the decision, the GP or local authority may decline. Our team at Nellie Supports provides expert mental capacity assessments throughout England and Wales, both in person and via video link.
Capability vs Capacity
In discussions surrounding decision-making and autonomy, the terms "capability" and "mental capacity" often arise. While they may sound similar, there is a distinction between these concepts. This blog aims to clarify the difference between capability and mental capacity and highlight their significance in different contexts.
Our article Capability vs. Mental Capacity: Understanding the Distinction discusses the differences in depth. It's important to understand the nuances of these terms, as they can have a significant impact on how we approach decision-making in different situations.
Why get a private mental capacity assessment?
Capacity can change, and any delay can result in a person losing capacity; organising a private mental capacity assessment can mean a faster appointment time, resulting in a greater possibility of a person being able to make their own decision, and where a person lacks capacity, reduces unnecessary delays with the service such as the court of protection.
Our Social Workers specialise in mental capacity and, as such, are experts in the assessment process and the case law, ensuring a robust and comprehensive report.
Who decides if a person has mental capacity?
Technically anyone can complete a mental capacity assessment; however, if the decision is complex or for legal purposes such as a deputyship order, it may require a qualified registered health and social care professional to complete the assessment. This includes GPs and Social Workers. Most importantly, you should ensure any assessor completing the assessment has the relevant experience and knowledge of assessing capacity and the legislation pertaining to the decision being made.
Can someone with dementia have mental capacity?
The principles of the Mental Capacity Act (2005) advise we should always presume capacity until proven otherwise. As such, a diagnosis of dementia does not necessarily mean that someone lacks the capacity to make decisions. While dementia can result in a person losing the ability to make decisions, the capacity to make a decision depends on the specific decision being made and the individual cognitive function at the time of the decision being made.