What does ‘mental capacity’ mean? Will others need to be involved in choosing a care home for me?
If you are deemed to have full ‘mental capacity’, then choosing a care home which meets your needs and funding arrangements can be entirely your decision. Having ‘capacity’ means that you have the ability to fully understand your options, and are able to make decisions which are in the best interest of your own health and wellbeing. Provided you have capacity, finding the right support package or care home is your choice, and a decision cannot be made by others without your consent.
If you live with dementia or any other condition which may affect your ability to understand and make decisions, then it is possible that you will be deemed to ‘lack capacity’, and therefore others will need to be involved in choosing a care home where your needs will be met and you will be safe.
A mental capacity assessment can be carried out by your GP, nurse or specialist dementia service, as appropriate.
If the assessment concludes that you do not have capacity, then a best interest decision will need to be made on your behalf.
If you have Lasting Power of Attorney arrangements in place which allow a nominated individual to act on your behalf in terms of both your finances and your health and wellbeing, then they will be able to make decisions for you regarding your residential care. If you do not have this in place, then a best interest decision will need to be taken by all those currently involved in your care, this could include your social worker, your GP, family members, your next of kin, and any mental health services as appropriate.
A best interest decision is not about forcing you to choose a particular care home or type of care, it is about making sure that you are somewhere where you will be happy and safe. It should reflect not only your care needs, but also your personal preferences for an environment where you can feel at home.
You can read more about mental capacity and decision making on the NHS website.