Changes to the Mental Capacity Act

New legislation on mental capacity and making decisions about a person's health and care has been passed into law and will be implemented from April 2020. 

The Mental Capacity (Amendment) Act 2019 will change the safeguards for people in England and Wales who lack mental capacity and are unable to make decisions about their care and treatment.

Below is a summary of the new law's key parts, and how they might affect people with Parkinson's. We'll know more when the law comes into force next year.

New role for care home managers

Under the new law, care home managers will have a new role in co-ordinating assessments to authorise deprivation of liberty (restricting someone's freedom so they can have treatment or care when they lack mental capacity). 

This has been roundly criticised. Problems centre around the ability and capacity of care home managers to carry out this role. There's also a potential conflict of interest, as care homes have a financial interest in keeping residents. 

More consultation

The new law says that before someone is deemed to have lost capacity, consultation must take place with the person affected, anyone caring for them or interested in their welfare, anyone they've said they want to be part of discussions, and other relevant parties.

New Approved Mental Capacity Professionals will also assess applications to label people as lacking mental capacity. They shouldn't be involved in the person's day-to-day care or connected to their care home. 

This should allow people with Parkinson's to have their views about their care and where they want to live heard more fully, and their cases assessed independently.

Single authorisations

A single authorisation saying someone has lost capacity will be valid across different care settings, for example a care home and hospital, under the new law.

This will help people with Parkinson's move more easily between places they receive care. They won't need to be reassessed after each move.

Our view

Senior Policy and Campaigns Adviser at Parkinson's UK, Sam Carney, said: 

"The simplification of the process so that a person doesn't need a reassessment every time they move between care settings is welcome. 

"However we do share the concerns others have expressed on potential conflict of interest in the new role for care home managers in co-ordinating assessments and how effective this legislation will be.

"We will be monitoring how these changes work for people with Parkinson's once the new legislation is in place, to ensure everyone gets the care they need."

Get support

If you or someone you know is affected by issues relating to mental capacity and the law, the charity Mind offers a legal helpline you can call on 0300 466 6463.

What we think

Find out more about Parkinson's UK's views on mental capacity.