The person responsible for a capacity assessment is generally the person who will act on it, to carry out actions in the person’s best interests because they lack capacity.
A doctor or nurse must, in general, be able to assess someone’s capacity, and record their findings, when they are making best interests decisions to treat someone who lacks capacity to give their own consent.
Frontline staff are protected from liability if they are following a care plan that has time and decision-specific capacity assessments linked to it. It is important that all capacity assessments are revisited at appropriate intervals, and certainly whenever a care plan is being reviewed. Someone’s capacity can change, for the better as well as for the worse.
All staff should know about the importance of recognising changes to someone’s decision-making capacity and be encouraged to consult more senior staff if, for example, they think someone has gained, or regained, capacity to make a decision that staff are in the habit of making for that person.