Decision making and mental capacity

January 3, 2018

Health and social care professionals should support people to make decisions even if they make a decision that they may disagree with, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence says in new draft guidance on decision making and mental capacity.

Professionals should support people who find it difficult to make decisions. The guidance says that making an 'unwise' or 'risky' choice does not mean that a person lacks capacity and decisions need to be made on their behalf. It also says that using visual aids or involving friends and family can help a person communicate their wishes.

Nageena Khalique QC, Barrister at No5 Chambers and Vice-Chair of the committee, said, 'Our draft guidance will help empower and support people who do have capacity to overcome difficulties they may face when making decisions.

'They should be provided with the right information to support that specific decision. Health and social care professionals should also make sure families, friends and carers are involved in these discussions.'

If someone is assessed as lacking mental capacity, services should take all reasonable steps to help people be involved in decisions made on their behalf, the draft guidance says.

Nageena Khalique QC continued, 'If someone is assessed as lacking capacity to make a decision, we must do everything to keep them involved in the process and take into account their wishes and feelings. They should be at the heart of decisions made on their behalf.'

Professor Gillian Leng, Deputy Chief Executive at NICE, said, 'Our advice, once final, will support government legislation and make sure all steps are taken to keep people at the centre of the decision-making process.'

The draft guidance on decision-making and mental capacity is out for public consultation until 5th February 2018. Stakeholders and members of the public are invited to comment. It is expected that the final guidance will be published on 


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