Overview

A capacity assessment is done only if there are legitimate reasons to believe the adult doesn’t have the ability to make their own decisions.

Before a capacity assessment, a doctor must give the adult a check-up to make sure their decision-making ability isn’t being affected by a medical condition that is:

  • temporary, or
  • reversible

A healthcare professional, called a capacity assessor, checks to see if the adult understands:

  • the facts they should consider when making a decision
  • what could happen if they choose one option over another

Capacity is assessed to help determine whether or not:

  • a personal directive should be enacted to give the agent authority to make a personal decision, or
  • one of these decision-makers should be appointed for an adult:
  • co-decision-maker
  • guardian
  • trustee

Just because someone disagrees with an adult’s decisions doesn’t mean they’ve lost the ability to make their own decisions. If they fully understand the impact of a decision, they’re probably capable of making it.

Who can do a capacity assessment

Capacity assessors are professionals who are qualified to evaluate an adult’s ability to make decisions. They include all:

  • physicians
  • psychologists

If they’re trained and meet certain requirements, other healthcare professionals can be designated as capacity assessors. They may be registered:

  • nurses
  • psychiatric nurses
  • social workers
  • occupational therapists

Co-decision-making capacity assessment

The capacity assessor:

  • meets with the adult
  • asks them questions to determine the degree to which they can make personal decisions
  • fills outs and signs a form that's only valid for 6 months to be used in an application for co-decision-making

Adult guardianship and trusteeship capacity assessment

The capacity assessor:

  • meets with the adult
  • asks them questions to determine the degree to which they can make personal decisions
  • fills out and signs a form that’s only valid for 6 months to be used in an application for guardianship or trusteeship

Personal directive capacity assessment

The capacity assessment process is different for a personal directive than it is for co-decision-making, guardianship and trusteeship.

When a person makes a personal directive, they can designate someone on the personal directive to ‘determine capacity.’

Two people decide

Two people determine capacity before a personal directive takes effect:

  • each does a capacity assessment
  • they decide - together - whether the adult has lost the ability to make personal decisions

If someone is designated to determine capacity

The maker of the personal directive may have named someone as ‘designated to determine capacity.’ This person might be:

  • a family member
  • a friend
  • their agent

The other person doing an assessment must be a:

  • physician
  • psychologist

If someone isn’t designated to determine capacity

The maker of the personal directive might not have designated anyone to determine capacity. Then, 2 service providers will determine capacity.

One of them must be a:

  • physician
  • psychologist

The second service provider can be a:

  • physician
  • psychologist
  • nurse
  • manager of a care facility
  • social worker

If the adult gets better

Sometimes people:

  • recover from injuries or illness
  • can make their own decisions again

If that happens, the adult should have another capacity assessment.

Is there a cost

The cost of a capacity assessment can vary.

The maximum fee for a capacity assessment is:

  • $500 for guardianship, trusteeship or co-decision-making
  • $700 for combined guardianship and trusteeship

If the cost of a capacity assessment is a financial hardship for you, contact the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (OPGT).

Find a capacity assessor

Find a qualified professional to do a capacity assessment for:

  • adult guardianship
  • co-decision-making
  • trusteeship

These capacity assessments can be done by any:

  • physician
  • psychologist
  • designated capacity assessor

We keep 2 lists of capacity assessors:

1. Professionals who do capacity assessments for the public as part of their private practice.

2. Those who do assessments as part of their job and work in places like hospitals or long-term care centres.

Publications

Capacity Assessment – Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship Act

Guide to Capacity Assessment under the Personal Directives Act

Contact

Find an OPGT office near you