If you are a paid carer
, an unpaid carer
or being cared for
, you should know about the Mental Capacity Act. It aims to protect people who cannot make decisions for themselves. These may be day to day decisions such as what to wear or what to eat, or major decisions about where to live. People may be unable to make decisions for themselves for many reasons including
- mental health
- learning disabilities
- head injuries
When someone cannot make a particular decision at the time it needs to be made, it is said that they lack capacity to make that decision. The act can be used to plan for their future, for a time when they may not be able to make decisions for themselves.
Right to decide
Everyone has the right to make their own decisions about what to eat, what to wear, or where to live.
The only way for a carer or a professional to prove that someone cannot make a decision for themselves is to carry out a capacity assessment. This assessment must be done by a professional, such as a healthcare worker, GP or social worker. The assessment will find out if that person has the ability to make that decision at that time.
Every decision must be treated separately. For example, someone who cannot manage their finances still has the right to decide what to wear or what to eat, and whether or not to undergo medical treatment.
If you are caring for someone who needs help because they are ill, disabled or frail due to old age, and you are not getting paid for it (not including Carers Allowance), you are an unpaid carer. This gives you the right to request support from Essex County Council. See the Carers pages
for more information
If you are being cared for
We all make decisions, whether they are small decisions like what to eat, or important ones like where to live. Everyone has the right to make these decisions for themselves. However, sometimes an illness or disability can prevent them from doing so.
If someone makes a decision for you because you cannot do it yourself, the Mental Capacity Act makes sure they act in your best interests.
The act also allows you to plan for the future. The main ideas of the Mental Capacity Act are
- People such as doctors, nurses and social workers have to assume that you can make decisions for yourself
- They must give you as much support as possible to help you make decisions for yourself
- No-one can stop you from making a decision just because they think you're making the wrong choice
- If someone makes a decision for you because you can't do it yourself, they have to make sure that it is the best thing for you and they must try to give you as much freedom as possible
- Not being able to make one decision does not give anyone the right to make all of your decisions for you. For example, if you cannot make decisions about your money, you still have the right to make decisions about what to wear or what to eat.