Gaining informed consent

Professionals have a legal and professional obligation to respect the human right to Autonomy, dignity and respect. Therefore, professionals must find ways of working with people to support consent giving and respecting those who make decisions professionals may disagree with or feel are unwise.

It is not always easy to obtain consent and many factors such as health conditions can affect an individual’s ability to do so. Support in such circumstances may involve:

  • Allowing sufficient time for decision-making
  • Providing specific care and treatment to enable the individual to have the mental capacity necessary to make the decision

Remember that:

  • Capacity is Decision-specific: therefore, assessment of capacity is not a one-off exercise, rather capacity needs to be assessed and recorded for each decision and situation.
  • Capacity is Person-specific: individualised support is needed to each individual, to ensure that they are given all practicable help to make decisions themselves
  • Capacity is Time-specific: with the exception of urgent or emergency treatment, it is important to support the individual to make a decision at the time most optimal for them.  Decisions may need to be delayed or timed when the person is best able to make the decision themselves.