Medical and Elder Law 2018

Legal and ethical perspectives and the latest developments in the clinical sector

26 - 27 Nov 2018Novotel Ellerslie, Auckland
Event Details
separately bookable workshop
Mastering capacity assessment techniques to make accurate clinical decisions
8.30am - 3.30pm

All of us including the elderly have the right to freedom and to make decisions and choices for ourselves. When that right is overridden there needs to be rigorous processes including that a legal test is applied.

Why you should attend?

As a clinician, you may be confronted with various scenarios where a patient or care resident has been deemed to lack capacity..

  • What does that really mean and what paperwork needs to be available for decisions to be made on their behalf?
  • Are you a hospital doctor who has been asked to assess the capacity of an elderly woman who has neglected herself and wants to return home but staff believe she should be in care
  • Are you a GP asked by a daughter to invoke enduring power of attorney papers for a patient of yours?
  • Are you a social worker who has been asked to apply for an urgent court order to place an elderly man into care?

This workshop will teach you key concepts, give you a structured approach, and explain what to do with results of your assessment and what to document.  At times, you will be divided into smaller groups to work through video case scenarios.  It will be very interactive with people encouraged to ask questions as we go along to clarify points.  There will be hard copy material for you to take away and links to online material.

Structured assessment

You will learn the steps needed to do a thorough assessment. This will include:

  • Why there should be a significant trigger
  • What information you need to gather
  • What the four elements are for the legal test when you interview the patient

Acting on the results of the assessment

  • Discuss the possible outcomes once you have made your decision about the persons competence to make a significant decision
  • Explore the specifics of what is needed to apply for enduring power of attorney, welfare guardianship or a will

Documenting the assessment

  • Different health professionals write up capacity assessments in different ways
  • A comprehensive guide on what needs to be documented to show evidence of the assessment and that it is stringent enough to be used in court if it is legally challenged



Elaine Plesner


Hawkes Bay DHB

Elaine is a psychiatrist who has worked in old age psychiatry and mental health and intellectual disabilities for many years. She has an interest in dementia and enjoys teaching. She has a wide experience in assessing capacity, using the mental health act and use of right 7(4) of the health and disability consumers act. As part of an initiative through the central region dementia reference group she and her colleague Megan Eddy have given workshops to GPs on how to diagnose dementia and workshops on assessing capacity. We have also produced a booklet “performing capacity assessments”. Elaine with two other colleagues produced a vimeo on how to perform capacity assessments.

Megan Eddy

Associate Clinical Nurse, Manager of Older Persons Mental Health Team

Hawkes Bay DHB

Megan Eddy is a registered comprehensive nurse. She has been working at Hawkes Bay District Health Board as the Associate Clinical Nurse Manager for the Older Persons Mental Health Service for 7 years. In this role she provided leadership and guidance for their multidisciplinary team in how they are best able to meet the needs of the older population group within Hawkes Bay. As part of this role, Megan also sit on the Regional Dementia Framework Reference Group and on behalf of this group, Dr Elaine Plesner and Megan delivered workshops to the primary sector throughout the central district region on Capacity assessments the ‘how’, ‘why' and ‘what for’. Megan has held a number of positions throughout her nursing career and older persons health is one she is extremely passionate about. Within this role she has developed a special interest in the area of capacity, what it means and how best to incorporate it up into her everyday practice.

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