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Last updated:

April 7, 2022


Unlimited Duration


This course includes:

Unlimited Duration

Badge on Completion

Certificate of completion

Unlimited Duration


This course, Understanding mental capacity, describes the principles and criteria underpinning the assessment of mental capacity and decision making in the UK.

The course begins by looking at what mental capacity – and the lack of it – means. You will be introduced to various groups of people who are more likely to lack mental capacity, but you will also learn why it is relevant to everyone. You will look at what can be done to help someone to make a decision themselves and the principles and steps that enable people to judge, fairly, whether someone has capacity or not. You will be introduced to the legislation in the UK and will see how it supports and protects people who may lack capacity.

The course will appeal to those who support people aged 16 or over and who have to make decisions in order to address the variety of interpretation and inconsistent application of services in everyday provision. It will explain the law and how it is applied in a practical way for those making important decisions about other’s lives, such as health and social care staff, police, banks and insurance industry workers, and retailers.

Enrolling on the course will give you the opportunity to earn an Open University digital badge. Badges are not accredited by The Open University but they're a great way to demonstrate your interest in the subject and commitment to your career, and to provide evidence of continuing professional development.

Once you are signed in, you can manage your digital badges online from My OpenLearn. In addition, you can download and print your OpenLearn statement of participation - which also displays your Open University badge.

This course is endorsed by the CPD Standards Office .  It can be used to provide evidence of continuing professional development but is not accredited learning. We are unable to provide formal learner verification services for participation in our open online courses, which are provided freely by The Open University as self-directed CPD.

Anyone wishing to provide evidence of their enrolment on this course is able to do so by sharing their Activity Record on their OpenLearn Profile, which is available before completion of the course and earning of the Statement of Participation

Earn this free Open University digital badge if you complete this course! The badge can be displayed, shared and downloaded as a marker of your achievement. The badge is awarded for completing the course and passing the quizzes.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • Understand what is meant by mental capacity
  • Apply your knowledge about mental capacity to different scenarios and outline how to support and/or assess capacity for decision making in each case
  • Outline what is involved in a mental capacity assessment
  • Identify what you would like to do next in relation to mental capacity in your personal life and/or career.

Course Curriculum

  • Introduction and guidance 00:15:00
  • What is a badged course? 00:15:00
    • Introduction 00:15:00
    • What is mental capacity? 00:10:00
    • Three points about mental capacity 00:07:00
    • Mental capacity and organisations: differences and similarities 00:10:00
    • Who and how many lack mental capacity? 00:15:00
    • Who else is affected? 00:05:00
    • How does time affect mental capacity? 00:03:00
    • Mental capacity can fluctuate 00:05:00
    • Summary 00:10:00
    • Introduction 00:10:00
    • Types of decisions 00:10:00
    • Exceptions 00:07:00
    • How do we make decisions? 00:30:00
    • Unwise decisions 00:20:00
    • Who is the decision maker? 00:05:00
    • Shared decision making 00:10:00
    • Who decides on your behalf? 00:10:00
    • How is a decision made on behalf of someone else? 00:10:00
    • Other types of decisions and supports 00:20:00
    • Summary 00:10:00
    • Introduction 00:10:00
    • How the law developed 00:10:00
    • Mental capacity principles 00:05:00
    • Mental capacity England and Wales 00:20:00
    • Mental capacity in Scotland 00:20:00
    • Mental capacity in Northern Ireland 00:20:00
    • Applying the legal principles 00:05:00
    • The Code of Practice 00:10:00
    • Values, attitudes and actions 00:15:00
    • Summary 00:10:00
    • Introduction 00:10:00
    • Assessments in care 00:07:00
    • Assessing mental capacity 00:20:00
    • Applying the test for assessment of mental capacity 00:10:00
    • The test for mental capacity 00:10:00
    • Who assesses? 00:05:00
    • What about more complex situations? 00:20:00
    • Doing an assessment 00:20:00
    • ‘Rules’ for supporting and assessing 00:05:00
    • Summary 00:10:00
    • Introduction 00:10:00
    • Decisions, children and young people 00:05:00
    • At what age is it legal? 00:15:00
    • Parental responsibility 00:15:00
    • Competence to give consent 00:20:00
    • Children, young people and decisions 00:05:00
    • Children under 16 00:20:00
    • Young people aged 16 and 17 years 00:30:00
    • Decisions in the Family Court and the Court of Protection 00:15:00
    • Exceptional situations 00:05:00
    • Child sexual exploitation 00:10:00
    • Mental capacity, mental health services and the law 00:10:00
    • Summary 00:10:00
    • Introduction 00:10:00
    • Capacity and people with learning disabilities 00:15:00
    • Learning disabilities and communication 00:10:00
    • Cultural issues 00:10:00
    • Decisions, rights and responsibilities 00:05:00
    • Decisions that require consent 00:10:00
    • Decision making and resources 00:10:00
    • Deprivation of liberty 00:15:00
    • Deprivation of liberty safeguards (DoLS) 00:10:00
    • Exceptional situations 00:05:00
    • Marriage, hate and death 00:30:00
    • Extreme measures 00:15:00
    • Summary 00:15:00
    • Introduction 00:10:00
    • Getting old 00:10:00
    • Getting old: what do we expect? 00:10:00
    • Balancing risk with well-being 00:20:00
    • Decision making and older people 00:05:00
    • The concept of personhood 00:05:00
    • Three common decisions 00:20:00
    • Exceptional situations 00:05:00
    • Power of attorney 00:10:00
    • Advance decisions 00:10:00
    • Legal authority and the courts 00:15:00
    • Summary 00:10:00
    • Introduction 00:10:00
    • How the law is changing 00:25:00
    • What have you learned? 00:10:00
    • What do you want to do next? 00:10:00
    • Next steps 00:30:00
    • Summary 00:20:00

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