The Mental Capacity Act (2005) covers all sorts of decisions that affect people aged 16 years and over. It is designed to protect and empower people who may lack capacity to make their own decisions, but it can also support people to plan ahead in case they lose capacity in the future.

The Act allows others to make decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself. It means that everyone who is working with, and caring for you must comply with the Mental Capacity Act when they are making decisions or acting on your behalf and in your best interests. 

It covers decisions about day to day things, whether that be what to wear or what to buy from your local shop, but it also covers more serious and life changing decisions about where you may live or if you need major surgery.

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 is underpinned by a set of five key principles:

  • A presumption of capacity - every adult has the right to make his or her own decisions and must be assumed to have capacity to do so unless it is proved otherwise; 
  • The right for individuals to be supported to make their own decisions - people must be given all appropriate help before anyone concludes that they cannot make their own decisions; 
  • That individuals must retain the right to make what might be seen as eccentric or unwise decisions; 
  • Best interests – anything done for or on behalf of people without capacity must be in their best interests; and 
  • Least restrictive intervention – anything done for or on behalf of people without capacity should be the least restrictive of their basic rights and freedoms

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 summary provides information on the Act and how it is underpinned by these set of five key principles.  It makes it clear who can take decisions, in which situations, and how they should go about this. It provides information which helps people to plan ahead for a time when they may lose capacity.