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Mental Capacity Act 2005

The Mental Capacity Act came into force on 1 October 2007. It aims to protect people who cannot make decisions for themselves, for any reason, and provides clear guidelines for carers and professionals about who can take decisions in which situations.

The Act states that everyone should be treated as being able to make their own decisions, until it is shown that they can not. A lack of capacity could be because of mental health difficulties, dementia, a severe learning disability, a brain injury, a stroke or unconsciousness due to an anaesthetic or a sudden accident. A person's capacity to make a decision will be established at the time that a decision needs to be made.

The Act aims to enable people to make their own decisions for as long as they are capable of doing so.

It also makes it a criminal offence to neglect or ill-treat someone who lacks capacity.

The Mental Capacity Act:
  • affects the work of all health and social care staff and organisations involved in the care, treatment or support of people aged 16 years and over who cannot make all or some decisions for themselves;
  • is based on good existing practice;
  • creates a single statutory framework for dealing with mental capacity issues and an improved system for resolving disagreements, dealing with personal welfare issues and the property and affairs of people who are not able to make their own decisions (in operation from 1st October 2007);
  • makes it clear who can take decisions, in which situations, and how they should go about this;
  • enables people to plan ahead for a time when they may lose capacity (through advance directives);
  • has a Code of Practice which explains how the Act will work on a day-to-day basis and provide guidance to all those working with, or caring for, people who lack capacity. Anyone who works with people who lack capacity in a professional or paid role has a legal duty to have regard to the Code of Practice.

Please see the Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice document below. For a summary and and easy to read version of the Mental Capacity Act, please see the website http://www.justice.gov.uk/protecting-the-vulnerable/mental-capacity-act

For more information about the Mental Capacity Act see the following documents on the Department of Constitutional Affairs website:

  • A guide for legal practitioners
  • A guide for social care professionals
  • A guide for healthcare professionals
  • A guide for family and friends
  • Planning ahead - a guide for people who wish to prepare for possible future incapacity
  • A guide for people with learning difficulties
  • A booklet on The Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) Service.

Safeguarding Policies and Procedures

An interim staff procedure on how to implement the Act was issued in December 2006. For further details, please follow the link here to the Safeguarding Policies and Procedures.

Other pages

Mental Capacity and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

Safeguarding adults

Other websites

Department of Constitutional Affairs

Ministry of Justice: Summary of Mental Capacity Act 2005

Birmingham Safeguarding Adults Board

Leaflets and documents