Mental Capacity Act

The Mental Capacity Act 2007 covers all sorts of situations where people aged 16 years and over need to make a decision about something that affects them, but may be unable to do so (they lack capacity to make the decision). It allows for people to plan ahead in case they may lack capacity in the future. The Mental Capacity Act allows somebody to make decisions for a patient if they are not able to make decisions for themselves. The same rules apply whether the decisions are major life-changing events or everyday matters.

The five key principles of the Mental Capacity Act are:

  • A person must be presumed to have capacity to make a decision unless proved otherwise
  • Someone cannot be treated as lacking capacity until all practical steps have been taken to help them to make their own decision. If someone has to make a decision for someone else they should still involve that person as much as possible
  • Just because someone wants to do something that most people consider unwise, strange or eccentric, this does not necessarily mean they lack capacity
  • If a decision is made for someone else it must be in their best interests
  • Any interference in someone’s right to make decisions must take the form of the least restrictive option, and respect their basic rights and freedoms

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