The Mental Capacity Act 2005 protects and empowers people who lack the mental capacity to make their own decisions about their care and treatment. It applies to people aged 16 and over and covers decisions ranging from day-to-day issues like what to wear or what to buy for the weekly shop to serious life-changing decisions such as whether to move into a care home or have major surgery.
Examples of people who may lack the capacity to make decisions include those with:
- A severe learning disability
- A brain injury
- Mental health illness
- A stroke
- Unconsciousness caused by an anaesthetic or sudden accident.
Just because a person has one of these conditions, it doesn’t mean they lack the capacity to make a specific decision. Someone can lack capacity to make some decisions - for example, to decide on complex financial issues - but still have the capacity to make others.
The Mental Health Capacity Act states everyone should be treated as being able to make decisions. It doesn’t make a distinction between good and bad decisions. Health professionals must prove that a person can’t make decisions, even when given help to do so.
If it has been proven that a person can’t make decisions, the Act tells carers and mental health staff who can make decisions for a person and when they can do this.
Professionals at West London NHS Trust, including doctors, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, healthcare assistants staff – will know how to use the Act.
Find out about the Mental Capacity Act on the NHS website