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Mental Capacity Act (MCA) 

Mental capacity is our ability to make decisions about all aspects of our lives. This could be affected permanently or temporarily by an injury, a serious illness or a disability.

The Mental Capacity Act (MCA) (2005) protects those who lack capacity and empowers them to make decisions for themselves wherever possible. It applies to people over the age of 16.

The Act explains in legal terms how to assess if someone has capacity to make their own decisions, and, if the person is unable to do this for themselves how decisions should be made on their behalf.

It covers a wide range of decision-making, from very complex decisions such as significant financial matters, medical treatment and wider welfare matters, to simpler decisions like deciding what to eat or what clothing to wear.

View the Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice on GOV.UK

Lasting Power of Attorney

The Mental Capacity Act allows people to plan for a time in the future when they may lack capacity to make decisions for themselves. This part of the Act applies to people over the age of 18.

Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a process that allows a person to identify and authorise an individual, or a group of people, to make decisions on their behalf if, at some point in the future, they no longer have capacity to make those decisions for themselves.

Everyone should consider setting up an LPA.

The LPA can authorise the person appointed to make decisions about:

  • health and welfare
  • property and financial affairs

or both of these things.

More about making, registering or ending an LPA 

More about LPAs in the Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice on GOV.UK

Advanced decision-making

Advanced decisions allow anyone over 18 who has capacity to state what medical treatment they do not want in the future so that family and doctors can act on their wishes if they are unable to express them.

My Decisions website offers a detailed guide to advanced decision and can generate a legal document for users to print, sign and share with family and doctors.

More about making decisions for someone else on NHS.UK