Ethical issues regarding capacity

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MindfulPsych
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Ethical issues regarding capacity

Post by MindfulPsych » Wed Aug 05, 2015 3:55 pm

Hello,

I am currently developing a piece of research with older adults who live in a care home. I know that I have to have ethical approval to be able to conduct this research but the problem I am having is to do with the Mental Capacity Act. How do I know if someone has capacity!? Do I have to carry out any tests? I don't want to get in trouble.

Has anyone done any research with older adults in a care home?

Thank you :D

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Morningstar
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Re: Ethical issues regarding capacity

Post by Morningstar » Wed Aug 05, 2015 6:11 pm

Hi MindfulPsych

One of the key principles of the Mental Capacity Act is to assume that a person has capacity unless there is evidence to 'prove' otherwise. If you do think that some of the people you might be inviting to take part in the research may lack capacity to consent to taking part, there is a 4 stage functional assessment that you would need to complete to establish whether or not or they have the capacity to make that particular decision.

There is some BPS guidance specifically around conducting research with people who may lack capacity to consent, here: http://www.psy.ed.ac.uk/psy_research/do ... onsent.pdf

I hope that's of some use, but I think it would also be a good idea to do some more reading around the Mental Capacity Act, and discuss the implications of this with the person who would be supporting you/supervising the research. Would the research be as part of your job or through a university, or something else entirely? What are you hoping to think about with older people?

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Geishawife
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Re: Ethical issues regarding capacity

Post by Geishawife » Wed Aug 05, 2015 6:56 pm

You also have to bear in mind that capacity is not a uniform phenomenon - every decision on capacity is situation specific. A person can be deemed to have capacity in relation to one situation but AT THE SAME TIME lack capacity in relation to another. So, for example, a person might have capacity to decide what they want to buy someone as a present but lack the capacity to decide to leave money in a will. Given that, you will have to be very clear about what your research involves and the risks/benefits of what you are researching and then determine on a case-by-case basis whether or not individual participants have sufficient capacity to give informed consent to take part.

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Morningstar
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Re: Ethical issues regarding capacity

Post by Morningstar » Wed Aug 05, 2015 7:16 pm

To add to that, people can also have fluctuating capacity, and this might change over the timescale of your research.

rebeccasmith1201
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Re: Ethical issues regarding capacity

Post by rebeccasmith1201 » Mon Aug 10, 2015 10:13 am

In my last role I was part of the early stages of a research project, which included participants who were sectioned under the MHA. In terms of assessing capacity, part of the ethical process was the MDT completing a capacity assessment with each individual to establish whether they had capacity to consent to the research (even if they had already had a capacity assessment for other areas e.g. for finances). We also planned on informing and involving the care co-ordinator.

I'm not sure if this may be something to consider for your research project?
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MindfulPsych
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Re: Ethical issues regarding capacity

Post by MindfulPsych » Tue Aug 18, 2015 9:27 am

I completely forgot to reply to you all! Thank you for all your help with this and for the resources (they were very helpful!) after having a discussion with my supervisor they have decided not to go ahead with the piece of research.. but thank you for all your replies :)

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