The Mental Capacity Act 2005 was introduced in April 2007 and is underpinned by five principles, which must be followed by everyone.
These five principles are:
- An assumption of capacity - unless it is proved otherwise
- Taking practicable steps to support people to make their own decisions
- People have the right to make eccentric or unwise decisions
- Where someone lacks capacity, professionals must decide or act in the person's best interests
- Where someone lacks capacity, any action professionals take on their behalf must be the least restrictive option.
‘Capacity’ is assessed about a specific decision at a particular time using the following criteria:
- Does the person understand the decision they need to make and why they need to make it?
- Can the person understand the consequences of making or not making this decision?
- Can the person understand, retain, use and weigh information relevant to the decision?
- Can the person communicate their decision by any means?
The Act introduced Lasting Powers of Attorney, Advanced Decisions to Refuse Treatment, the Court of Protection, The Office of the Public Guardian and the Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy Service.
You can download six booklets about making decisions published by the Department of Health and the Office of the Public Guardian.