A person's ability to make a decision, which can be time and decision specific, is usually referred to as their mental capacity. Traditional mental health law has enabled compulsory intervention, based on the criteria of ‘mental disorder’ and risk to self and/or others, regardless of whether the person has the ability to make the relevant decision/s about intervention. This is in contrast to most other aspects of health and social care where, if the person has ability to provide or refuse consent, then their decision is respected. In Northern Ireland a new approach has been developed which will create a single, comprehensive legislative framework to provide the necessary protections and safeguards for a decision to be made when a person is unable to do so themselves regardless of the cause of their impaired decision making ability. In this article the context of this alternative approach will be explored and some of the drivers for change will be identified. The new law itself will be outlined and some of the issues in the process of change will be discussed. Finally some possible future directions will be considered.
|Number of pages
|Journal of Elder Law and Capacity
|Published - 28 Jul 2020