Looking after someone
Mental capacity and decision making
The Mental Capacity Act (MCA) protects a person's money, health and welfare, if they can't make all their own decisions because of a problem with how their brain functions.
This could be due to dementia, stroke or brain injury, or learning disability or mental health problem.
- They may have the capacity to make everyday decisions, but not to make larger, more complex decisions.
- They may have the capacity to make decisions one day but not the next.
- Their capacity to make decisions might improve or get worse over time.
How does it affect family, friends and unpaid carers?
The Act protects a person's rights and is relevant to anyone who has a relative or friend who may lack capacity. It covers major decisions about someone’s property and financial affairs, health and welfare and where they live.
- It covers everyday decisions about personal care, when the person can’t make those decisions for themselves.
- It clarifies the process for caring for people who may lack capacity.
- It clarifies how decisions should be made for your relative or friend if they are unable to make those decisions for themselves.
- It sets out when you should be consulted about decisions made on behalf of your relative or friend.
- It sets out how your relative or friend is protected when others are making decisions on their behalf.
If a person lacks mental capacity, you can only make decisions about their health and finances if you have power of attorney - see representing someone who needs care and support.