Will remote mental capacity assessments become the 'new norm'?

It has now been several weeks since remote assessments of mental capacity through a live link became ‘the new norm’.

At the start of lockdown, there were a number of initial fears voiced suggesting that the assessment process wouldn’t be as robust or that people wouldn’t engage with the medium.

However, it would appear that as we continue to conduct remote assessments via video link, these initial fears were based more on practitioners own anxieties rather than reality. In fact, there seems to be increasing anecdotal evidence that for some groups, assessments through smartphone, tablet, laptop or webcam work better – especially for those at certain points on the autism spectrum, for whom virtual reality is being already utilised in training and education.

However, this group is not alone in their positive response to assessments. For example several weeks ago we assessed a man with Schizoaffective personality disorder. A part of his condition was that he didn’t like talking to people, he self-isolated and wouldn’t engage. This individual was completely new to WhatsApp – he’d never had a smartphone previously – but he was fully engaged from the start. He kept saying how amazing the technology was and to be fair, just wouldn’t stop talking! In this instance, it was clear that speaking to him remotely made the assessment and his ability to engage, a lot easier.

Although the use of remote capacity assessments using video link are in their infancy, it is clear that they are an effective assessment platform and we believe they are only going to become more effective as we continue to develop our processes and understanding surrounding them.

We believe that now is the time to embrace this new way of working and that it will continue to be the norm for many assessments after the current restrictions on contact are lifted.