Judging substantial difficulty in being involved

Local authorities must consider for each person, whether they would have substantial difficulty in engaging with the local authority care and support processes. The Care Act defines four areas in any one of which a substantial difficulty might be found:

Understanding relevant information

1.‘Understanding relevant information’. Many people can be supported to understand relevant information, if it is presented appropriately and if time is taken to explain it. Some people, however, will not be able to understand relevant information, for example if they have mid-stage or advanced dementia.

Retaining information

2.‘Retaining information’. If a person is unable to retain information long enough to be able to weigh up options and make decisions, then they are likely to have substantial difficulty in engaging and being involved in the process.

Using or weighing the information as part of engaging

3.‘Using or weighing the information as part of the process of being involved.’ A person must be able to weigh up information, in order to participate fully and express preferences for or choose between options. For example, they need to be able to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of moving into a care home or terminating an undermining relationship. If they are unable to do this, they will have substantial difficulty in engaging and being involved in the process.

Communicating their views, wishes and feelings

4.‘Communicating their views, wishes and feelings’. A person must be able to communicate their views, wishes and feelings whether by talking, writing, signing or any other means, to aid the decision process and to make priorities clear. If they are unable to do this, they will have substantial difficulty in engaging and being involved in the process.