The Mental Capacity Act 2005 provides a legal framework for making decisions on behalf of people who lack the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves.
The act includes:
- Lasting power of attorney: somebody to look after your finances or/and your welfare decisions when you don't have capacity to make those decisions
- Advance decision to refuse treatment: if there is a particular medical treatment you would not want if you don't have capacity to make those decisions
- Independent mental capacity advocate: if you do not have anybody else who can help you make decisions if you don't have the capacity.
- Best interest: The act says that whoever is making decisions for you, they must make decisions that are in your best interests.
- Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards: If you need to be in a care home or hospital for care and treatment, but you do not have the capacity to agree to being there, there must be safeguards in place.
What is mental capacity?
The ability to make decisions at the time they need to be made.
- The act applies to people aged 16 and over who lack capacity to make decisions at the time they need to be made
- You may lack the capacity (not be able) to make all your own decisions for reasons such as dementia, a head injury, stroke, learning disability, episode of mental illness or some other reason
- You may have capacity to make everyday decisions like what to wear or what to eat and drink but not be able to make larger decisions such as looking after your money or deciding where you should live
- You may have capacity to make decisions one day but not the next
- Your capacity to make decisions might improve or get worse over time
- Some people have a legal duty to the act's code of practice; these include professional health and social care staff, paid carers, deputies and people acting as attorneys
Adult social care is now provided by Northern Care Alliance