The Mental Capacity Act could affect you in different ways depending on who you are.  The following sections explain how:

If you are unable to make some decisions, the Act explains:

  • That you should have as much help as possible to make your own decisions:
    Before looking at whether or not you have the capacity to make your own decision, the law expects you to be supported to be allowed to make your own decision. This could be through providing information in a more simple way, such as using easier words or pictures, trying at different times of the day or when you are in better health or having a friend or an independent person to help you express your choice.
  • How an assessment of capacity should be made about whether you are able to make a particular decision at a particular time:
    The Act states that you are presumed to have capacity unless it is shown that you lack capacity to make a particular decision at a particular time.  If all reasonable steps have been taken to help you make a decision and you are still unable to make that decision then an assessment of capacity should be made. For further information about assessing capacity please go to the 'Assessing Capacity & Best Interests' section of our website and read chapter 4 of the Code of Practice.
  • That even if you do not have the capacity to make a very complicated decision for yourself this does not mean that you are unable to make more straightforward decisions:
    Your capacity may depend on the type of decision. For example, you may be able to make decisions about day to day things such as what to eat for dinner, what to wear etc, but be unable to make a decision about financial things like what to do with your savings.
  • That even if someone has to make a decision on your behalf you must still be involved in this as much as possible:
    If you are unable to make a particular decision and you have haven't made plans about this in advance, then someone else, such as a carer or professional, will have to make the decision for you.  However you should be involved in the decision making process as much as possible. 

    Any actions or decisions made on your behalf should be made in your best interests. For further infrmation on unerstanding best interests please go to the 'Assessing Capacity & Best Interests' section of our website and read chapter 5 of the Code of Practice.
  • That anyone making a decision on your behalf must do so in your best interests.
  • That there is a new safeguard, the Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA), to represent you if you lack capacity to make certain important decisions and there is no one else who can be consulted.  Information on IMCA is available on the Link to external website Department of Health Website.

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If you are somone who wants to plan ahead for the future, the Act:

  • Allows you to make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) enabling you to appoint someone to make decisions about your finances and property or your health care and welfare should you ever lack the capacity to make these decisions yourself.
  • Enables you to make an 'advance decision to refuse treatment' if there is a particular medical treatment you would not wish to receive at a time in the future when you may lack capacity to refuse it. Further guidance and explanation of advance decisions can found in Chapter 8 of the Code of Practice.

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If you are a family or other unpaid carer, the Act:

  • Will help you understand how and when you can act on behalf of someone who lacks capacity to make decisions - and the safeguards and limitations if you are doing this.
  • Says that you should be consulted by professionals when, for example, a doctor makes a decision about treatment for a family member who lacks capacity, or wants to involve them I a research project.   This will, for the first time, give carers a legal right to be consulted.
  • Provides a framework for assessing a person's mental capacity and determining their best interests if they lack capacity to make a decision. For more information visit the 'Assessing Capacity and Best Interests' section of our website and read chapters 4 & 5 of the Code of Practice.
  • Establishes a Code of Practice which contains guidance on to use the Act on a day to day basis.

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If you work in health and social care, the Act:

  • Provides a framework for assessing a person's mental capacity and determining their best interests if they lack capacity to make a decision. Click on this link for further information on best interests.
  • Has safeguards and limitations for when you are working with someone who lacks the capacity to consent to receiving care and treatment.
  • Clarifies how you should act when people have made an LPA covering health and welfare issues or an advance decision to refuse treatment.
  • States that you must have regard to the Code of Practice, which explains how the Act will work on a day to day basis.
  • Has safeguards for research involving people who lack capacity. More information on research and its regulations can be found on the Link to external website Department of Health website.

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If you work in the legal, banking or advice sectors, the Act:

  • Creates a single, coherent framework for dealing with mental capacity issues and an improved system for settling disputes dealing with health and welfare issues, and the property and affairs of people who lack capacity.
  • Clarifies how you should act when people have made an LPA covering health and welfare issues and or their property and affairs.
  • States that you must have regard to the Code of Practice, which explains how the Act will work on a day to day basis.

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