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Covid-19: Information, guidance and resources to support you through the pandemic

Covid-19 homepage

Find links to resources and guidance about the impact of Covid-19 on the Mental Capacity Act and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards.

We’re all trying to adjust to the social distancing measures that have radically altered the way we live our lives. Both the Coronavirus Act 2020 and the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Wales) Regulations 2020 recently came into force in Wales and have put us all under significant restrictions.

This new legislation doesn’t make changes to the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) or the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS), but it may mean taking a different approach to how it’s applied. The government have published Coronavirus (COVID-19): looking after people who lack mental capacity guidance on this.

The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) has produced some very helpful, comprehensive guidance to help you think through mental capacity and implications of the Covid-19 pandemic.

SCIE highlight that:

  • the five principles on which the MCA are based remain as important as ever - the ethical framework for adult social care confirms this, as does the guidance on hospital discharge
  • new or returning staff/volunteers in social care will need to understand the MCA and the importance of the rights of people with cognitive impairments
  • when relying on phone or video link there are additional challenges in assessing someone’s capacity
  • a best interest decision can only be made between the available options, which may differ at the moment when everyone’s choices are curtailed
  • staff need to understand the application of the MCA in safeguarding situations
  • staff need support to meet the challenges of upholding the MCA and this shouldn’t be underestimated at this time of national crisis

SCIE’s guide also sets out some practical suggestions for:

  • DoLS assessments during the outbreak, including what the Best Interests Assessors and Authorisers could consider and document in their reports
  • applying to the Court of Protection and the practicalities you should consider at this time.

SCIE’s guide summarises the news article from 39 Essex Chambers. Read the article in full, which also includes guidance on advance care planning and key messages from the vice-president of the Court of Protection.

39 Essex Chambers have produced a rapid response guidance note on social distancing and mental capacity. The note discusses what local authorities should do where a person doesn’t have capacity to make decisions about social contact in the circumstances of Covid-19.

The National Mental Capacity Forum held a recent webinar about the challenges of applying the MCA during Covid-19. It also gives practical suggestions for self-care and learning from other European countries.

A short article on our current public health restrictions and how they interface with mental capacity has been written by Alex Ruck Keene.

Alex has also written a page that includes resources relating to Covid-19 and the MCA which will be updated regularly. On this page he provides links on a wide range of related themes including human rights, end of life care and learning disability.

Here is a link to information about fast-track requests for health and social care staff to check whether someone has an Attorney or Deputy, that has been published by the Office of the Public Guardian.