Skip to main content

About this free course

Become an OU student

Download this course

Share this free course

Understanding mental capacity
Understanding mental capacity

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Understanding mental capacity

Introduction and guidance

This free badged course, Understanding mental capacity, lasts eight weeks with approximately three hours’ study time each week. You can work through the course at your own pace, so if you have more time one week there is no problem with pushing on to complete a further study session.

You’ll start the course by looking at what mental capacity – and the lack of it – means. You will be introduced to various groups of people who are more likely to lack mental capacity, but you will also learn why it is relevant to everyone. You will look at what can be done to help someone to make a decision themselves and the principles and steps that enable people to judge, fairly, whether someone has capacity or not. You will be introduced to the legislation in the UK and will see how it supports and protects people who may lack capacity.

In the latter half of the course, you look more closely at mental capacity in relation to three groups: children and young people, people with disabilities and older people. You finish by reviewing what you have learnt and identifying if and how you would like to take the subject further.

As part of the course, you will undertake a number of quizzes, of which Weeks 4 and 8 will provide you with an opportunity to earn a badge to demonstrate your skills. You can read more on how to study the course, and about badges, in the next sections.

After completing this course, you should be able to:

  • explain what is meant by mental capacity
  • apply your knowledge about mental capacity to different scenarios and outline how to support and/or assess capacity for decision making in each case
  • outline what is involved in a mental capacity assessment
  • identify what you would like to do next in relation to mental capacity in your personal life and/or career.

Moving around the course

In the ‘Summary’ at the end of each week, you will find a link to the next week. If at any time you want to return to the start of the course, click on ‘Course content’. From here you can navigate to any part of the course. Alternatively, use the week links at the top of every page of the course.

It’s also good practice, if you access a link from within a course page (including links to quizzes), to open it in a new window or tab. That way you can easily return to where you’ve come from without having to use the back button in your browser. You can do this by holding down the ‘CTRL’ key (or CMD on a Mac) and left clicking the mouse button; or right click and ‘open in new tab’.