The Mental Capacity Act (MCA) is designed to protect and help people aged 16 and over who lack the mental capacity to act or make decisions for themselves. It sets out:
It also enables people to plan ahead for a time when they may lose capacity.
The MCA is underpinned by five core principles:
The MCA applies to all professions working with people who may lack capacity to make decisions. This includes doctors, nurses, social workers, care assistants and support workers.
Mental capacity is the ability of someone to make decisions. These can range from day-to-day decisions, such as deciding what to eat for breakfast, or whether to have a shave or not, to life-changing ones, like moving home or having an operation.
There are a range of conditions which may affect a person’s mental capacity. These include:
The legal definition of someone lacking capacity is that they cannot do one or more of the following four things:
The IMCA service is provided for any person, aged 16 or older, who has no one able to support and represent them, and who lacks capacity to make a decision about either:·
POhWER provides an IMCA service in Norfolk. For further information about this service, visit the POhWER website.
Once an IMCA has been called in, they will have the following duties:·
If an IMCA disagrees with the decision made, they can also challenge the decision-maker.
There are several things that can be done to prepare for the future. You can set out some decisions in advance or let people know what you would like to happen if you lose the capacity to make decisions.
It can also be helpful for your family, future carers and for the people you have chosen to make decisions for you, to have your wishes clearly outlined.
You can grant Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) to another person, or people, to enable them to make decisions about your health and welfare or financial affairs. We’ve provided more information about LPA and making decisions for someone else.
An advance statement is a written statement that sets down a person’s preferences for future health or social care, but it’s not legally binding.
An advance decision, sometimes also known as a living will, is a legally binding decision. It allows you to decide, while still capable, to refuse specified medical treatment at a time in the future. It must be made in writing, signed and witnessed.
You can download government information booklets and the MCA Code of Practice from the GOV.UK website.
The NHS website also has information about the MCA and making advance statements and decisions.