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Mental Capacity: An Overview

A person may lack capacity because they have:

  • a learning disability
  • a mental health problem
  • a brain injury or stroke
  • dementia

The Mental Capacity Act affects anyone who works with or cares for people who lack capacity.

It covers all major decisions where a person may lack capacity about their:

  • finances
  • property
  • social care
  • medical treatment and research
  • daily arrangements
  • personal care such as what they eat

It also covers what happens when the person can't make those decisions for themselves.

If you can't make some decisions, the Mental Capacity Act says:

  • you should have as much help as possible to make your own decisions
  • people should find out if you can make a particular decision
  • even if you cannot make a complicated decision for yourself, this does not mean that you cannot make more straightforward decisions
  • even if someone has to make a decision for you, you must still be involved as much as possible
  • anyone making a decision on your behalf must do so in your best interests

The Act is clear about:

  • who can take decisions in which situations
  • how they should go about this

It also allows people to plan ahead for a time when they may lack capacity.

Useful information

Understanding the Mental Capacity Act

About power of attorney

About becoming a deputy

Mental Capacity Act 2005 - Factsheet

A carer's guide to the Mental Capacity Act

Who do I contact?

If you would like further advice, please contact the:

Safeguarding Governance Team
Telephone:020 3373 9731

Opening hours:
Monday - Friday between 09:00 - 17:00

Email is available 24 hours (Monday - Sunday)
***Queries via email will be responded to between 09:00 - 17:15 on Monday - Friday only.***