Summary

Mental capacity involves the ability to take decisions. The Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) assumes that adults have the right to take their own decisions about their care and treatment unless it can be proved that they are incapable of doing so. Mental incapacity therefore is the inability to take decisions about one’s care and treatment with other people then having to take the same decisions for them.

The MCA does not consider mental incapacity to be a general state of mind, but applies to decisions that must be taken at a specific point in time. People with, for example, a learning disability, dementia or brain damage, can often take some decisions for themselves, but not every decision. Also, their ability might change from one time to another. So, it is important to understand what any individual can decide for himself or herself and what he or she cannot decide at the time the decision is being made.

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