Scholarship Stories: Mental Capacity Act Guidance During Covid-19 and Beyond

With funding from the Burdett Trust, The National Centre for Post-Qualifying Social Work and Professional Practice has produced a series of brief guides to help all health and social care professionals with the principles of the Mental Health Capacity Act.

Guides covering the use of the Mental Capacity Act for decisions regarding clinical treatment and care have been shared by NHS England.

Guides produced by BU’s National Centre for Post-Qualifying Social Work and Professional Practice (NCPQSW) will support health and social care providers in applying the Mental Capacity Act for decisions regarding clinical treatment and care during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond.

As a result of Covid-19, many health and social care professionals will face a rise in the number of clinical decisions they will need to make where capacity and consent for treatment and care will be significant and critical issues.

The set of three guides from the NCPQSW covers the requirements of the Mental Capacity Act for individuals who, either do not have or have reduced capacity to consent to decisions regarding their treatment and care.

It also includes information around Advanced Decisions to Refuse Treatment (sometimes referred to as living wills) reminding all clinicians that advanced decision- making should be done with the person fully engaged in the process and not to the person, or for the person.

The guides have been distributed by NHS England to all primary care and acute hospitals and will also support care and decision-making in nursing and care homes.

Professor Keith Brown, Director of the NCPQSW, said: “This guidance helps health and care staff to assist residents in making their own choices as to what they would want to happen to them, if they were to be infected by the Covid-19 virus. It’s about having those honest yet difficult conversations in ways which are appropriate and indeed legal.

“At this very difficult time, unfortunately many of these types of conversations are needed – indeed, every one of us should consider what our wishes are and how we would want to be treated if we became unable to advocate for ourselves.

As a society we often shy away from discussing death and dying, yet Covid-19 has brought home to us all that we can never be certain of the future and thus difficult conversations with our loved ones should be had, by all of us.”

The NCPQSW team (including Michael Lyne, Mental Capacity Lead) have been working to produce the guides in conjunction with the NHS England Safeguarding team and the Office of the Public Guardian.

Professor Brown has also produced videos for NHS England on protecting vulnerable people from financial fraud and scams.

He said: “This guidance will help ensure that citizens’ rights are maintained and clinicians are clear about their legal duties.

We trust that these resources will assist all health and social care professionals in delivering the very best possible care in this difficult time of the Covid-19 response, and also into the future when we get to the other side of the pandemic.”

The guides can be downloaded for free here.

About The National Centre for Post-Qualifying Social Work and Professional Practice

Facebook: @NCPQSW
Twitter: @ResearchPQSW
Instagram: @pqswteam

About The Burdett Trust for Nursing

Facebook: facebook.com/burdetttrust
Twitter: @burdetttrust
Instagram: @burdettrust

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