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Understanding mental capacity
Understanding mental capacity

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The key learning points of this week are:

  • Having a learning disability can involve a combination of many different problems, behaviours and difficulties.
  • The nature of learning disabilities means that it is more likely that the person’s capacity to make safe decisions for themselves or for others is impaired.
  • People with learning disabilities often have capacity for making decisions in many areas of their lives.
  • When supporting their decision making or assessing capacity, great care should be taken to listen to and communicate with the person with the learning disability. Extra time and extra visits should be planned: a reliable decision cannot be made after just one conversation.
  • When people with learning disabilities exercise choice in some aspects of their lives, they may come into conflict with the prejudices and anxieties of others. It is therefore important to work with the person and their parents or carers and the professionals in their lives, to ensure that their ‘best interests’ can be honestly determined and actually delivered. 

You should now be able to:

  • describe what is meant by ‘learning disability’
  • explain the importance of communicating and listening in assessing the wishes and feelings of people with learning disabilities
  • describe some of the decisions that people with learning disabilities often need support making
  • describe some of the legal opportunities for intervention and support
  • give examples of high-stakes situations which feature enforced intervention in the lives of people with learning disabilities, including the deprivation of liberty.