Every day, we make decisions about our lives. These decisions could be about simple things like what we eat or what we wear. They could also be about more major things like our health, our care and our finances.

Our ability to make decisions is called mental capacity.

What is the Mental Capacity Act?

The Mental Capacity Act states that everyone should be treated as able to make their own decisions until it is shown that they can't. It aims to enable people to make their own decisions for as long as they are able to do so.

The Act also protects people who lose the ability to make their own decisions by:

  • Allowing the person, while they are still able, to appoint someone (for example a trusted relative or friend) to make decisions on their behalf once they lose the ability to do so.
  • Ensuring that decisions that are made on the person's behalf are in their best interests. The Act provides a checklist of things that decision makers must work through.
  • Introducing a Code of Practice for people such as health and social care workers who support people who have lost the capacity to make their own decisions.

People with no one to act for them will also be able to leave instructions for their care.

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards 

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) aim to prevent the unlawful detention of adults in hospitals and care settings who lack capacity to choose where they live and/or to consent to care and treatment.