Care homes - Beware implied consent

Implied (and capacitated) consent is when we do not explicitly agree to something through a written statement or words but when our actions or lack of action seems to suggest that we have agreed. An example of this is when a person visits the doctor and is told they need a blood test; they may not be asked to formally consent but consent is implied if they roll their sleeve up and present their arm to the medic for the test. In working with people with a mental impairment it is very important to consider whether their actions or lack of action are implying consent or whether it actually indicates a lack of understanding and capacity. When an unconscious patient is wheeled into the A&E department they will not be objecting to being admitted but it can hardly be said that they are consenting either. The fact is that because they are not conscious they lack the mental capacity to make the decision and a best interest decision has been made to admit them. When a person first becomes resident in a care home they may not have shown any objection to going there but we should be cautious to conclude that a lack objection means that they gave consent. They may just not have understood where it was they were going. If in doubt assess capacity.