Mental Capacity Act

Introduction

The Mental Capacity Act is designed to protect people who can’t make decisions for themselves or lack the mental capacity to do so. This could be due to a mental health condition, severe learning difficulty, a brain injury, a stroke or unconsciousness due to an anaesthetic or sudden accident. Under the Mental Capacity Act, a person is presumed to have capacity to make their own decisions “unless all practical steps to help him (or her) to make a decision have been taken without success”.

Objectives

Principles of the Mental Capacity Act 2005

When assessing capacity:

  1. A person must not be assumed to lack capacity UNLESS it is proved otherwise
  2. Until all practical steps have been taken to help someone make a decision without success they cannot be treated as lacking capacity
  3. An unwise decision does NOT in itself indicate lack of capacity

When acting or making decisions on behalf of someone lacking capacity:

  1. Any act or decision made must be in the person’s best interests
  2. Any act or decision should aim to be the least restrictive option to the person in terms of their rights and freedom of action
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