Mental capacity in the face of need for essential treatment

Good practice guide
Members only
Good practices guides focus on providing information on a clinical topic.
Jane Buswell
Date Published:
05 November 2012
Last updated: 
05 November 2012

This practice question has been published with the kind permission of the Royal College of Nursing

How can nurses resolve the dilemma of providing essential care and treatment when individuals lack mental capacity and are potentially unable to comply?

Situations often arise in all care settings where individuals lack capacity to make decisions about their care or treatment. This may be because of impaired cognitive ability, as can be experienced in dementia, or other underlying conditions, for example, delirium caused by infection. Clinical holding is one term used to describe a set of methods that have been devised for the safe holding of patients during therapies, treatments or procedures. Therapeutic, safe and supportive holding are other terms used in the UK.