A person is deemed to have mental capacity if they are able to make and communicate their own decisions.
A person may lack capacity because they have:
- A learning disability
- A mental health problem
- A brain injury or stroke
The Mental Capacity Act affects anyone who works with or cares for people who lack capacity.
It covers all major decisions where a person may lack capacity about their:
- Social care
- Medical treatment and research
- Daily arrangements
- Personal care such as what they eat.
It also covers what happens when the person can't make those decisions for themselves.
If you can't make some decisions, the Mental Capacity Act says:
- You should have as much help as possible to make your own decisions
- People should find out if you can make a particular decision
- Even if you cannot make a complicated decision for yourself, this does not mean that you cannot make more straightforward decisions
- Even if someone has to make a decision for you, you must still be involved as much as possible
- Anyone making a decision on your behalf must do so in your best interests.
The Act is clear about:
- Who can take decisions in which situations
- How they should go about this.