Mental Health assessments

Everyone experiences episodes where they are unable to make decisions, whether they are tired and overworked, or an illness has impaired their mental capacity. Patients are defined as unable to make sound decisions when: they are unable to retain information long enough, they don’t understand the decision that is being asked of them, or if they are severely mentally disabled.

To assess a patient’s mental capacity to make reasonable and logical decisions, their family and close ones need to be included, and every effort has to be made to communicate with that patient before their decision is taken away. Here are some key ways that you can assess if a patient needs medical intervention to maintain their well-being.

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Keep Detailed Records

Many patients lose the ability to make decisions after a long-standing illness or injury. Recording the patient’s mental capacity throughout the treatment stage will give you the best indication as to whether their mental ability is declining or not. Keeping regular health journals can show tiny variations that may not otherwise be easy to spot, such as short-term memory capacity getting worse over many years, which may show a slow mental decline that will inhibit the patient from making proper decisions later in life.

Conduct Capacity Assessment Tests

A capacity assessment test is performed when all other attempts have failed and there are possible health implications for the patient. It can be requested by a doctor if a patient is believed to be a potential risk to themselves or others, or repeatedly makes bad choices that cause them continued harm.

A Psychiatric Capacity Assessment is used when a patient is unable to protect themselves legally or make accurate assessments of their situation. The basic principles and stages of these assessments are that: one must always assume the person is capable of making decisions, that the decisions they make are assessed on the ability and not the overall choice, their appearance doesn’t determine their decision-making ability, and that their privacy is maintained.

Patients that are unable to make everyday choices for themselves will need to request Medicolegal Reports and Psychiatric Capacity Assessments to protect them. These services are readily available with Psymplicity, which has a team of medical and legal experts ready to take on any case. Click this here to get more information about protecting a patient.

Culture and Linguistics

A person’s life choices can be explained by their culture, the way they were brought up, and the religions they follow. Sometimes, a patient’s inability to make a decision is not due to a physical or mental issue, but rather their culture and language mean they process information differently. Some cultures allow the men in the family to make decisions, and there are those where the whole family decides together. Understanding a person’s ability to make reasonable decisions is not clear-cut, and there can be a variety of reasons for a patient not wanting certain treatment. Perhaps their religion doesn’t allow blood transfusions. This is not reason enough to take away their ability to make choices.

In determining a patient’s capacity for decision-making, every possible action must be taken to ensure the patient does have mental or physical difficulty. Ask questions often and keep them open-ended to allow the patient to process the information they have been given and understand that their decisions are ultimately theirs, and must be freely made.

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