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Mental Capacity Act (MCA)

The Mental Capacity Act is a piece of legislation that was created in 2005. Its purpose is to provide a formalised legal framework in relation to mental capacity to help support and protect people accessing care services and, also, support people that deliver services. 

The Mental Capacity Act is underpinned by five principles:

  • A person must be assumed to have capacity unless it is established that they lack capacity.
  • A person is not to be treated as unable to make a decision unless all practicable steps to help them to do so have been taken without success.
  • A person is not to be treated as unable to make a decision merely because they make an unwise decision.
  • An act done, or decision made, under this Act for or on behalf of a person who lacks capacity must be done, or made, in their best interests.
  • Before the act is done, or the decision is made, regard must be had to whether the purpose for which it is needed can be as effectively achieved in a way that is less restrictive of the person's rights and freedom of action.

Read more about the Mental Capacity Act in this brief guide from Herefordshire Safeguarding Adults Board (HSAB) or visit their website for further information including a copy of their MCA policy and access to various forms if you are a professional.

The MCA also makes provision for adults who have capacity to make plans for the future when they may lack capacity. Please also see our sections on Making decisions and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS).

You can also find more information about the Mental capacity act and making decisions on the government's GOV.UK website