What do newly appointed health staff know about the Mental Capacity Act (2005)?

Med Sci Law 2011;51:97-101
doi:10.1258/msl.2011.010120
© 2011 British Academy of Forensic Science

 

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What do newly appointed health staff know about the Mental Capacity Act (2005)?

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Articles by Willner, P.

Articles by Lewis, G.
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Paul Willner DSc CPsychol *  ,
Jennifer Bridle BSc *,
Simon Dymond PhD BCBA-D  and
Glenda Lewis RGN BSc 


* Directorate of Learning Disability Services, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, Bridgend
Department of Psychology, Swansea University, Swansea
Governance and Safeguarding Directorate, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, Swansea, UK

Correspondence: Prof Paul Willner, Community Support Team, The Laurels, 87 Lewis Rd, Neath SA11 1DJ, UK. Email: p.willner{at}swansea.ac.uk

Objectives: The study aimed to assess the extent of knowledge of the MentalCapacity Act (MCA) (2005) among new recruits to a National HealthService (NHS) Trust.

Design: Respondents were assessed before and after a brief trainingexperience.

Setting: Data were collected while respondents attended their mandatoryTrust induction training.

Main outcome measure: Assessment was by means of a 16-item true–false questionnaire.

Results: While respondents’ knowledge appeared reasonably good for someimportant features of the MCA, these results may have been exaggeratedby a strong tendency to respond ‘true’, which persisteddespite instructions intended to counteract it. Some significantareas of ignorance were also identified. Scores showed a smallbut significant improvement when participants were reassessedfollowing a 10-minute talk on the MCA; the improvements werespecific to certain items that were included in the trainingpresentation. There were no significant differences in performancebetween non-clinical staff, naïve clinicians and clinicianswho reported having previously received training on the MCA.

Conclusions: Knowledge of the MCA among newly appointed NHS staff is patchy,with some strengths but also significant weaknesses. The resultsdemonstrate a benefit of the brief training experience, butalso question how much information is retained by participantsin MCA training.

What do newly appointed health staff know about the Mental Capacity Act (2005)?
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