The results are in: industry attitudes on the implementation of the Mental Capacity Act

This year‘s Care Quality Commission (CQC) report on the state of health and adult social care in England states that despite increasingly challenging circumstances, good levels of care are being delivered with encouraging signs of improvement. However, it discloses that albeit pockets of good practice around the implementation of the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) 2005, care providers are still not adequately implementing their responsibilities. While certain services are deemed to possess a thorough understanding of the MCA, many are classed as lacking the training and understanding to see it through.

To explore the issue in greater depth, Desuto undertook its own research of health and social care professionals including social workers, nurses and care home managers*. Results echoed the findings of the CQC report around low application levels of the MCA, but what also emerged was a real desire amongst health and social care teams to better understand the Act. Over half of those surveyed (56%) consider awareness and application levels of the MCA to be low to average whilst 89% state that they would like a better understanding of how to work with patients as part of it. The results evidence a desire and need for more support as the stress of clinical demand, time pressures and lack of resources take their toll.

What also transpired are the difficulties facing teams in gaining this further support as the correct tools and technology are not readily available. 96% of health and social care professionals agree that expert guidance and information around the MCA would provide more confidence in the workplace. Moreover, 92% believe that tools and technology could aid with the decision-making process and streamline reporting. A further 87% of respondents find the creation of patient reports time-consuming, consuming precious time that could be better spent on patient care.

Our survey demonstrates that health and social care professionals are calling out for greater support to help with decision-making under the MCA as protecting the rights of patients is paramount. There is an enthusiasm to meet their obligations as fully as possible, but barriers exist that are preventing them from feeling fully confident in practice. We hope to see improvements in next years' CQC report as barriers are broken down and there is an increase in support for those that need it in the form of new technology, innovative tools and further education.

* Highly targeted survey of 100 health and social care professionals that are required to adhere to the MCA polled during October 2016