Assessing Mental Capacity – A Window into Someone’s Life

Recently I was working with a family who asked – “How can you assess someone you don’t know and don’t know about their life” and feel this is an important question to answer.

When I set up Gain Capacity Experts, I made it my mission to find out as much as I could about a person I was assessing. I want to see the world through their eyes. I  really want to understand things from their point of view. It only takes a few moments to listen and take in a wealth of experiences that can often help in the decision-making process. Our clients are not just a reference number but are integral to ensure we have all of the facts.

I am lucky enough to spend time with lots of different people and given the time to really get to know them. I am genuinely interested to understand their life story and it’s amazing how much strength and tenacity people have, even the most vulnerable. Some of the people I meet are no longer able to form coherent words but talking to their nearest and dearest to understand what is important to them is vital.

 Whilst undertaking a capacity assessment at the weekend, I met a 98-year-old lady. It was lovely to hear from her daughter; about the person she once was and how she now tries to keep her engaged and happy. In my time as a nurse, I have had the pleasure of assessing and planning the care of many. From the man with Down’s Syndrome who loves to sit by the warm radiator. To the elderly gentleman who used to be a horse jockey. I’ve met many young people who have suffered a lot of trauma in their young lives, and most of the time I find the right words to say.

I take the time to soak in their non-verbal communication and understand how their environment is affecting their behaviour. I listen and learn from experts and try to share that knowledge and expertise of how to work with someone. It’s really important to perform an accurate assessment of mental capacity around important decisions. If the wrong assessment is made it can have serious consequences for the person and everyone.

I’ve heard so many times over recent months how hard things can be for people. The elderly mum still living at home with carers going in four times a day. She keeps having falls and multiple hospital admissions. Lack of information, support, help and guidance and told ‘there is nothing more we can do’. We can help, taking the time to listen to all requirements and ensure decisions are made to help and advise families and the wider support network.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me on 07734 393918 or email