If you, a relative or someone you care for has an illness, injury or disability which causes difficulties in making decisions, you may need to think about planning ahead in the event that important decisions need to be made about affairs and the future.
Mental capacity is your ability to make decisions about your life. Your ability to make decisions could be affected by an injury, a serious illness or a disability. You may want to plan ahead for when you do not have capacity, or you might be caring for someone who is not able to make decisions for themselves.
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 governs decision-making on behalf of people, who may lose the ability to make decisions for themselves at some point in their lives, or where an incapacitating condition has been present since birth.
The Mental Capacity Act affects anyone aged 16 or over who does not have the capacity to make some or all decisions for themselves. It defines mental capacity, or ‘capacity’ as the ability to make a particular decision at a particular time. A person’s capacity can vary from day to day and from issue to issue. Someone could have capacity to make some, but not all, of the decisions they need to make.
The government has more useful information about the Mental Capacity Act and who can make decisions for you if you can’t and the NHS Choices website provides a guide to the Mental Capacity Act.
The MCA Directory from the Social Care Institute for Excellence contains useful information and various tools to help understand the Mental Care Act, including the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards.
The following NICE guideline covers decision-making in people 16 years and over who may lack capacity now or in the future.