Seeking an expert capacity assessment
A range of medical professionals can undertake capacity assessments of older people. You need to consider the client’s disability before making the referral. Mental illness, acquired brain injury (ABI) and dementia each require a different capacity assessment. Who you approach will also depend on the circumstances, such as the level of urgency or where the client is (for example, they may already be in hospital). Your client needs to agree to the referral and the possible costs.
The medical practitioner must be properly briefed. When referring a client, it is important to include in the referral letter:
- client background
- reason the client contacted you
- purpose of the referral – the decision at hand, the legal standard of capacity to perform the task, any known medical information, information about the client’s living situation and client preferences (The Law Society of NSW 2009, p. 8).
The LIV Elder Law Committee has material on its website which outlines matters to consider when requesting a medical assessment of a person’s cognitive capacity. LIV members can access this resource material at their website.
See also The Law Society of NSW, When a Client’s Capacity is in Doubt – A Practical Guide for Solicitors.