What is the nature of Mental Capacity Act training and how do health and social care practitioners change their practice post-training? A narrative review

J Clin Nurs. 2020 Jul;29(13-14):2093-2106. doi: 10.1111/jocn.15256. Epub 2020 Apr 16.


Aim and objective: To identify training strategies and determine how registered health and social care practitioners change their practice after Mental Capacity Act training.

Design: Narrative literature review.

Data sources: Seventeen databases were searched up to December 2019: CINAHL, Social Care Online, PubMed, Social Policy and Practice, Discover, MEDLINE, Science Direct, Ovid, 0of Science, British Nursing Index, DH-Data and King's Fund Library Catalogue.

Review methods: Empirical studies of any design investigating Mental Capacity Act training were searched and screened. Data were extracted to a bespoke spreadsheet and quality assessed. Reporting followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA).

Results: Of 162 papers identified, 16 were included comprising qualitative, quantitative and mixed-methods studies. Trainees valued interactive training with close alignment to practice. Training did not lead to demonstrable practice change. Barriers in the context and cultures of care environments were identified.

Conclusion: To facilitate application of Mental Capacity Act legislation, identified barriers should be addressed. Future training should be interactive, scenario-based and relevant to trainees' practice.

Relevance to clinical practice: The Mental Capacity Act is widely misunderstood and implemented poor. Training is proposed as a solution, but the nature of training that will positively affect practice remains unknown. This review aims to address this gap in the evidence base. Interactive training, using scenarios that reflect practice complexities, has the most positive impact. Cultural norms in care environments may impede application of this legislation. The review has international relevance as there is a global imperative to adhere to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The review will inform training design and delivery to ensure that people with impaired capacity to make decisions are given the best opportunity to act autonomously.

Keywords: Mental Capacity Act; health care; impact; narrative literature review; nurses; social care; training.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care / methods*
  • Health Personnel / education*
  • Humans
  • Mental Competency / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • United Kingdom