A Competency Clinic for the Elderly at Baycrest Centre
Advocates' Quarterly, Vol. 10, p. 23, 1988
4 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2008
Within our health care and social welfare framework there is an increasing emphasis on the right of individuals to control decisions affecting their daily lives. For instance, medical care, residential care, and property dispositions typically require that the interested individual give consent to the proposed arrangements. Those found incompetent to consent may have such decisions made on their behalf. Yet in Ontario there are no established objective criteria for the determination of competency or incompetency to give one's own consent.
In law there is a recent tendency to recognize states of partial incompetence and to adopt limited guardianship statutes. It is perhaps this recognition of partial competency related to individual functions that points most forcefully to the need for multi-faceted criteria that permit the fair and objective assessment of individual competencies. Because at present there are no such criteria, physicians tend to make rather subjective, all or nothing determinations of competency. Court judgments of competency may still tend to follow suit: they are traditionally heavily influenced by medical diagnosis, and often do not solicit sufficient behavioural or psychiatric evidence to be really compelling.
There is an urgent need, then, to develop and refine criteria for the assessment of competency, which is the major purpose of the Competency Clinic at Baycrest Centre, Toronto.
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