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What do we know about the application of the Mental Capacity Act (2005) in healthcare practice regarding decision-making for frail and older people? A systematic literature review

Hinsliff-Smith, Kathryn, Feakes, Ruth, Whitworth, Gillian, Seymour, Jane, Moghaddam, Nima, Dening, Tom, Cox, Karen (2017) What do we know about the application of the Mental Capacity Act (2005) in healthcare practice regarding decision-making for frail and older people? A systematic literature review. Health & Social Care in the Community, 25 (2). pp. 295-308. ISSN 0966-0410. (doi:10.1111/hsc.12310) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:83178)

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In England and Wales, decision‐making in cases of uncertain mental capacity is regulated by the Mental Capacity Act 2005. The Act provides a legal framework for decision‐making for adults (16 and over) who are shown to lack capacity and where best interest decisions need to be made on their behalf. Frail older people with cognitive impairments represent a growing demographic sector across England and Wales for whom the protective principles of the Act have great relevance, as they become increasingly dependent on the care of others. However, while the Act articulates core principles, applying the Act in everyday healthcare contexts raises challenges for care providers in terms of interpretation and application. This paper presents a review of the published evidence documenting the use of the Act in healthcare practice, with particular reference to frail older people. Our aim was to identify, review and critically evaluate published empirical studies concerned with the implementation and application of the Act in healthcare settings. A systematic approach was undertaken with pre‐determined exclusion and inclusion criteria applied across five electronic bibliographic databases combined with a manual search of specific journals. This review reports on 38 empirical sources which met the inclusion criteria published between 2005 and 2013. From the 38 sources, three descriptive themes were identified: knowledge and understanding, implementation and tensions in applying the Act, and alternative perspectives of the Act. There is a need for improved knowledge and conceptualisation to enable successful incorporation of the Act into everyday care provision. Inconsistencies in the application of the Act are apparent across a variety of care settings. This review suggest staff need more opportunities to engage, learn and implement the Act, in order for it to have greater resonance to their individual practice and ultimately benefit patient care.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1111/hsc.12310
Uncontrolled keywords: everyday decision-making, fluctuating capacity, frail older people, Mental Capacity Act, systematic literature review
Subjects: R Medicine
Divisions: Central Services > Office of the Vice-Chancellor
Depositing User: Karen Cox
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2020 09:27 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 14:15 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Cox, Karen.

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