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Analyse Factors That Influence The Capacity Of An Individual To Express Consent

 

Consent capacity is about one’s ability to understand information that helps one to make informed decisions. The social and health care worker needs to be attentive to the situation because every individual’s ability to make informed consent is different.

It seems easy and simple to ignore and unable to agree with the consent of the people who are mentally impaired, physically ill, or have language barriers. But a professional carer knows the right way to work sensitively with these types of people and place the goals to achieve the successful outcomes.

According to the mental capacity act, every adult has the right to make informed decisions. It is assumed that they can do so until or unless there is any serious hindrance. Also, people must support their decisions.

Thus, regardless of any hindrance, the social and health care worker needs to assist the individual in making informed, voluntary decisions.

Factors that impair an individual’s brain or mind

However, an individual can lack mental capacity if their mind is disturbed or impaired and as a result, they are unable to make decisions at that time. Some factors that can impair the mental capacity of an individual to express consent include:

  • Severe learning disabilities
  • Dementia
  • Brain damage due to stroke or other brains related injuries
  • Serious mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia
  • Intoxication caused by alcohol or drugs
  • Physical and mental conditions that cause drowsiness, confusion, or a loss of consciousness

Any of the above impairments can seriously cause the ability of an individual to make their consent. It is important to ensure that a mental capacity assessment is the only way to make a particular decision at a particular time. For instance, a person is not able to make an informed decision due to the intoxication but the next day their capacity will be returned and they can make informed consent.

What are the hindrances in making informed consent?

It is the responsibility of the social and health care worker to establish consent before conducting any activities or actions related to the individual’s healthcare. An individual needs to learn all the facts which are needed in making informed consent that including the benefits and potential risks. But they must have enough mental capacity to understand the options, and choices, weigh them up and communicate their consent.

Therefore, some hindrances enable the individual's capacity to express their decision. This means an individual is said to not have the capacity to express their consent if they cannot:

  • Understand the information which is provided to them related to the consent.
  • Hold on to that information for too long to make the consent.
  • Use that information to make their consent
  • Communicate their final decision.

Hence, health care worker needs to do their best to assist the individual in making informed consent. This includes giving all sorts of information which they need to make an informed consent by using the relevant communications methods to find out the individual’s consent.

Factors that influence the capacity of an individual to express consent

 

Many factors influenced the capacity of an individual including, mental state, emotional state, age, physical state, and cognitive impairment level.

Mental state

The mental state also affects the ability of the making consent. For example, a person under the influence of drugs and alcohol is unable to make firm decisions about sexual activity. Similarly, people who are mentally ill are not able to make informed consent about engaging in sexual activity.

Emotional state

It also affects the capacity of an individual to express consent. For instance, where a person is upper than the other person (student/teacher case), the person who is afraid to act or stand up.

Age

It is the most important factor in assessing consent capacity. Younger people are less likely to make a firm decision as they don't have enough life experience to understand the outcomes of their actions. However, there is no particular age that lacks the capacity of giving consent because it depends on the individual’s understanding and maturity.

Physical state

It is a feeling of pain, fatigue, disability, or illness that affects the person's ability to make informed decisions and clearly communicates it. An individual having severe arthritis is not able to move without assistance, and an unconscious person might not be able to give consent.

Cognitive impairment level

It is another factor that affects the capacity of consent. People with intellectual disabilities are unable to make informed consent without involving in sexual activity because they can't understand the implications of their actions and outcomes. Moreover, stress levels and sleep deprivation are other consent capacity.

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