This Mental Capacity Act affects decision-making for all people aged 16 and over who are unable to make some or all decisions by themselves.

The issue of capacity is decision-specific. This means that capacity can only be assessed in relation to a particular decision that needs to be made at a particular time. This is an important safeguard against blanket assessments of someone’s ability to make decisions based on their disability.

The Act also recognises the fact that someone may be able to make some decisions but not others. For example, someone can lack capacity to make complex financial decisions or consent to medical treatment, but have the capacity to decide what they would like to eat.

Assessing capacity to make a decision

When assessing capacity to make a decision, it important to consider whether your child is able to:

  • understand the information relevant to the decision
  • retain that information
  • use that information to make a decision
  • communicate their decision (whether by talking, using sign language or any other means

Best interest decision making

When someone is judged not to have the capacity to make a specific decision (following a capacity assessment), that decision can be taken for them, but it must be in their best interests. The process of making a best-interest decision should be led by the person who requires the decision to be made; e.g. a doctor who requires consent before carrying out treatment.

Consulting with others is a vital part of best interest decision making, and the Mental Capacity Act requires the involvement of carers and family members. Parents and professionals must always support a young person to be involved as much as possible in a decision made on their behalf, even if they do not have the capacity to make it themselves.

Easy Read

The Local Government Association have written an easy read version of the Mental Capacity Act that you can read by clicking here.