Where an individual is deemed not to have capacity to make a decision, the decision will be made in the individual's best interest. The identity of the final decision make will depend on the the type of decision being made and whether there is an attorney in place. The decision maker may not always be the family or next of kin.
In terms of best interest, decisions fall into two categories:
- Health and welfare; and
- Property and finance
Many people have a property and finance power of attorney in place to enable the management of their affairs should they no longer be able to do so themselves. If this is not the case, an application can be made to the Court of Protection to appoint a Deputy to manage your property and financial affairs.
Best interest meetings
Unfortunately, far too many people do not have an attorney for health and welfare decisions. This means that if you lack capacity to make a decision relating to where you should live, your medical care, or who you should have contact with, the decision will be made on your behalf and in your best interests and your local authority will become involved.
This can lead to best interest meetings being convened to try and come to an agreed position with all relevant parties. Family members ought to be consulted during the decision-making process and should have an active role in any meeting, but the ultimate decision maker will be the health or social care professionals involved in your care.
This can be upsetting for your family, particularly in cases where there is a disagreement between what your family think is in your best interest and what the professionals think.
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 and Codes of Practice give guidance as to relevant factors to take into account when making best interest decisions, and this includes the views of “anyone engaged in caring for the person or interested in his welfare”. The decision maker must also consider your past wishes and feelings and any beliefs or values you have which may influence the decisions being made on your behalf.
Support for you at best interest meetings
We can support you and your family at best interest meetings where there may be a dispute and ensure that guidance set out in legislation is properly taken into account when these important decisions are being made. Dealing with your wishes when you are no longer able to do so yourself can be a difficult time for everyone involved, which is why our specialist team will approach the matter with sensitivity and compassion. With a wealth of experience in best interest meetings, you can rest assured that we will always keep your needs and requirements at the centre of what we do.