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Mental capacity

From next month physiotherapists in England working with people who lack mental capacity will need to learn the legal requirements of a code of practice.

The code is part of the Mental Capacity Act, which determines who can make decisions for adults who have lost mental capacity. It comes into force in April. Phase one of the act will introduce a code of practice, an independent mental capacity advocate service and a new criminal offence of neglecting a person lacking mental capacity.

The code of practice will outline how the act works on a daily basis for people working with, or caring for, individuals who lack mental capacity. Independent advocates will help people who lack capacity and do not have support. They will help make decisions about serious medical treatment and about proposed changes to where people live. Chartered Physiotherapists in Mental Healthcare vice chair Sharon Greensill said the act would emphasise the type of information physiotherapists gathered for patient assessments. She said: 'It's important to look at time spent with patients, for example nursing home patients, because they must be constantly reassessed. It's about capacity to make a decision at that time.' Ms Greensill said the act also highlighted a need for physiotherapists to extend communications with patients in order to understand when they might lack mental capacity.


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21 March 2007

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