Annex 2: A guide to communicating with the person with impaired capacity
Principle 3 means the person's present and past feelings and wishes must be ascertained so far as possible. Some individuals will be able to express their wishes and feelings clearly, even although they would not be capable of taking the action or decision which you are considering. For example, the person may continue to have opinions about what he/she wants to do or buy without being able to carry out making the arrangements or carrying out the transaction personally.
The Scottish Government has prepared a tool for staff involved with the assessment process where the capacity of the individual is in question. 'Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000: Communication and Assessing Capacity: a guide for social work and health care officers'. It supplements the code of practice for local authorities and is available to download at the Scottish Government website: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Justice/Civil/awi/resources/publications/professional. It is a web publication only.
In communicating with the adult the following points may be helpful:
- take time to explain to the adult what decision requires to be made and what issues are involved;
- use simple language;
- choose a time of day when the adult is alert and ready for a discussion;
- choose a quiet location where interruptions are unlikely;
- use any aids which might be helpful, such as pictures or videos;
- where there are language or speech difficulties, seek assessment and support from a speech and language therapist;
- use appropriate visual aids or sign language for those with hearing difficulties;
- ensure that any mechanical devices such as hearing aids, or voice synthesiser, are used properly to assist communication;
- in extreme cases of communication difficulties, seek advice from a speech and language therapist including advice on what specialised assistance might be available;
- maximise the help of others who know the person and who are trusted by the him/her, for example relatives, friends, GP, social worker, the adult's named person, or member of the person's faith community, to help you to explain the matter and seek the person's views; but be careful to ensure that others are helping to communicate the person's views without imposing their own. (Their own views may also be important, but that is a separate matter.);
- use the services of an advocacy project which supplies volunteers or other staff to promote independently the rights, views and wishes of people who have difficulty in expressing these for themselves. For further information on advocacy services see Annex 4.
- If all efforts fail, be prepared to abandon the attempt, and try at another time (having reflected on what might help).