Mental Capacity Act

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 sets out what should happen when people are unable to make one or more decisions for themselves. It explains the roles that different people have for making decisions, including family or carers.

Some decisions related to mental capacity may need to go to the Court of Protection. This is a court that specifically makes decisions in this area.

The Mental Capacity Act says that adults have the right to make decisions for themselves (even if other people don’t agree with them). Unless they are not able to make that decision due to their illness or disability. It notes how professionals should decide whether someone can make a decision and what they should do if the person cannot make that decision.

Why is this important?

Every person has the right to make their own decisions unless it is assessed that they can’t (when they ‘lack capacity’). If you cannot make a decision, then a decision has to be made ‘in your best interest’.

Some people will be able to make some decisions but not others. People working with you have to give you as much information and help as they can so you can make the decision.

How does it work?

If someone believes that you cannot make a decision, then a social worker has to assess whether you can:

  • understand the important points that you need to in order to make the decision
  • remember these important points
  • balance the points to make a decision
  • let other people know the decision.

If you cannot make the decision, then the people involved in this decision and the important people in your life should talk together and agree what would be the best thing to do for you. The decision should be in your best interest.

Who is involved?

Anyone who is working with you who thinks that you may not be able to make a decision is responsible for assessing whether you can make that decision. They then work with other people who know you well to make a decision in your best interest.

The role of parents and carers

Parents can help you to understand the important points to make it easier for you to make a decision. If you cannot make the decision, then your parents will be very important in deciding what decision should be made and what is in your best interest.

Related links

Preparing for Adulthood website

Social Care Institute for Excellence