The Mental Capacity Act came into force in England and Wales in 2007.  It is an important piece of legislation which applies to people aged over 16 years.  Most of us will not need to know much about it, but if you or a loved one have any type of cognitive impairment then the Mental Capacity Act may become very relevant.

The Mental Capacity Act is all about whether a person has the mental capacity to make a certain decision.  A person might have capacity in some areas but not others.  For example, they may be able to decide where to live but might struggle to understand how to manage their finances.  Each decision should be looked at differently and the person should be supported to see if they can make the decision for themselves.

The 5 principles of the Mental Capacity Act are:

  1. We should assume a person has capacity until it is proved otherwise.
  2. We should take all practicable steps to help a person make the decision themselves.
  3. People have a right to make what others may see as an unwise decision.
  4. Where a person lacks capacity, a decision should be made on their behalf in their best interests.
  5. The least restrictive option should be taken.

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Case Study: The Mental Capacity Act and Rebecca

I was asked to get involved in the case of a young woman with a mild learning disability. For the purposes of confidentiality, we will call her Rebecca. Rebecca did not agree to a plan her care agency had set and I was asked to get involved.