What are the essential elements to take into account when determining whether a person has capacity to consent to informal admission to a psychiatric hospital?
As Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHPs), we are trained to use the least restrictive alternative. This phrase only formally arrived on the Mental Health Act scene in 2008 with the publication of the most recent Code of Practice. But as Approved Social Workers (ASWs) before that time, we were very clearly expected to follow the least restrictive route, even though the words did not appear in any legislation or guidance at the time.
But how do you measure levels of restriction?
Historically, it seems that professionals believed the existence of a set of section papers, authorising detention, indicated a higher level of restriction than if the person remained an informal[i] patient, who is, in theory, free to leave the ward whenever they wish. But…
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