Mental Capacity Act

The Mental Capacity Act (MCA) aims to protect people, over the age of 16 years, who for any reason cannot make decisions for themselves. It provides clear guidelines for carers and professionals about who can take decisions in which situations. This applies whether decisions are life changing events or more everyday matters.

A person’s capacity to make a decision must be established at the time that a decision needs to be made. A lack of capacity could be because of:

  • mental health problems
  • dementia
  • a learning disability
  • a brain injury
  • a stroke
  • unconsciousness or a sudden accident.

The Act presumes capacity and states that everyone should be treated as being able to make their own decisions until it is shown that they cannot. It is to ensure that those who lack capacity are empowered to make as many decisions for themselves as possible and that any decision made, or action taken, on their behalf is made in their best interests.

Further information

There is guidance on the NHS website about the Mental Capacity Act.

You can also get information on the Mind website about the Mental Capacity Act.

If you are looking for guidance about someone you are working with, please read our information for professionals.