Consent and Capacity: The Role of the Speech-Language Pathologist

Presenter: Amy Volkmar, Speech and Language Therapist, UK.

Date: Oct. 11, 2017.

The webinar discusses the principles of decision-making and legal capacity in terms of the four cornerstones of comprehension, recall, weighing up and communicating issues related to decision making. Although, the presenter will reference capacity issues in the UK healthcare system, many of these issues are similar in Canada. The research literature on how legal capacity relates to people with communication difficulties is sparse at present. This literature will, however, be presented and discussed particularly in relation to methods of supporting people with communication difficulties in decision making. The presentation will include case examples and discussions related to the various roles of the speech-language pathologist; in assessment of mental capacity, facilitating communication in assessments, educating and training others and supporting decision makers. We will consider advance planning and supporting family members. The webinar will finish with an overview of outcome measures in this area, future directions in research, and development of discipline specific policies and procedures for speech-language pathologists.


Anna Volkmer qualified as a speech and language therapist from University College London in the UK in 2002. She has worked clinically with adults with acquired neurological conditions across both the UK and Australia since then. Anna has a special interest in working with adults with early onset dementia; specifically Primary Progressive Aphasia, and adults with complex brain injuries. In 2013 Anna published her first book “Assessment and Therapy for Language and Cognitive Communication Difficulties in Dementia and Other Progressive Diseases” and in 2016 published her second book “Dealing with Capacity and Other Legal Issues with Adults with Acquired Neurological Conditions: A Resource for SLTs”. Anna currently holds an NIHR fellowship and is studying for her PhD. She is on the committee writing the forthcoming NICE SCIE guidelines Decision making and mental capacity. She is also editing another book for publication in early 2018 entitled “Speech and Language Therapists and Mental Capacity: A training resource for adult services”.