Authors: Marshall H, Sprung S
Br J Community Nurs. 2016 Dec 02;21(12):615-622
The Mental Capacity Act (MCA) is statutory legislation introduced in 2007 to protect and empower people to make decisions for themselves and those who were deemed as unable to make choices would have decisions made on their behalf, often by health professionals. All health professionals must follow the guiding principles of this legislation. Yet a scrutiny report by the House of Lords concluded this legislation was under-used with a lack of knowledge among professionals regarding applying the legislation in practice. A review of the literature also supports these findings. A mixed method study was carried out among adult community nurses to explore if these findings were applicable within a health trust in the North West region. An electronic questionnaire (n=60), focus group (n=7) and a paired interview (n=2) were utilised to collect data regarding community nurse's experience and confidence of using the MCA in practice. Analysis identified key themes: training, knowledge and confidence among staff, working together with the wider multidisciplinary team, empowerment and improving documentation. While findings suggest clear examples of self-appraised confidence and excewllent patient care, there is also scope for development regarding the knowledge and utilisation of the MCA in the clinical practice of community nurses.