The Mental Capacity Act (2005)

What is the Mental Capacity Act 2005?

The Mental Capacity Act provides a statutory framework to empower and protect people (generally aged 16 or over) who may lack capacity to make some decisions for themselves. This could include people with:

  • dementia
  • learning disabilities
  • mental health problems
  • stroke
  • head injuries

Lack of capacity may also be because at the time the decision needs to be made, they are unconscious or barely conscious (due to an accident or being under anaesthetic) or their ability to make a decision may be affected by the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The Act makes it clear who can take decisions, in which situations, and how they should go about this. It enables people to plan ahead for a time when they may lack capacity.

The Act covers major decisions about someone's property and affairs, healthcare treatment and where the person lives, as well as everyday decisions about personal care.

Further information on the Mental Capacity Act (2005)

Further information about Mental Capacity Act: making decisions (GOV.UK) includes:

  • A summary with key information about the Act and sets out some of the changes that have occurred as a result of it coming into effect.
  • The code of practice which provides guidance on how the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (Act) works on a day-to-day basis. It also has case studies and explains in more detail what the key features of the law are.

You can also find more information about the Mental Capacity Act on website for the Social Care Institute for Excellence.

The Mental Capacity Act Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)

The Mental Capacity Act Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) apply to anyone aged 18 and over:

  • who suffers from a mental disorder or disability of the mind – such as dementia or a profound learning disability and,
  • lacks the capacity to give informed consent to the arrangements made for their care and/or treatment and
  • for whom deprivation of liberty (within the meaning of Article 5 of the European Commission for Human Rights) is considered, after an independent assessment, to be in their best interests to protect them from harm

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