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The Mental Capacity Act 2005: implications for dietetic practice

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The Mental Capacity Act (MCA) 2005 will be implemented in England and Wales in 2007 and have consequences for dietitians who work with people who may lack capacity to make specific decisions. This paper will explore issues arising from the introduction of the Act and considers the implications for dietitians involved in the delivery of clinical care, using enteral feeding as an illustrative example.

If patients lack capacity to make specific decisions, dietitians will be required to record if, how and why they reached a decision, how they are involved in the decision making process and need to be able to justify their actions in relation to those decisions. This paper discusses the importance of dietitians’ involvement in best interests decision making and considers the implications of decision making where people have drawn up a Lasting Power of Attorney. The role of such advance decisions is discussed and consideration is given to the potential compatibility of perspectives between the patient and family that may give rise to disputes.

Dietitians may be well placed within multidisciplinary team working to ensure patients and their carers are part of the decision making process through effective communication and support for patients. Dietitians in England and Wales must consider the implications of the MCA upon their clinical practice and others outside these jurisdictions may like to reflect on the relevance of such developments in their own contexts.

Keywords: Mental Capacity Act; dietitians; enteral feeding

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Health, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, Lancashire, UK 2: Independant consultant 3: Social Care Workforce Research Unit, Hing's College London, The Strand, London, UK

Publication date: 2007-08-01

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