The Mental Capacity Act 2005
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) affects people who are unable to make decisions for themselves, perhaps because of:
- a learning disability;
- a mental health problem;
- a head injury or a stroke;
- a drug, alcohol or substance addiction or;
- an acute illness, or the treatment of an acute illness.
All major decisions where a person lacks mental capacity are covered by the Act, from how their finances are managed to whether or not they can consent to have medical treatment.
As well as the relevant person lacking mental capacity, the Act also applies to their family, friends, health and social care staff and anyone else who has contact with them.
The Act also allows anyone to plan ahead in case they lack mental capacity in the future.
The key values that underpin the Act are set out in 5 statutory principles:
- It is always presumed that a person has mental capacity;
- A person must be given support to make their own decisions, if possible;
- An unwise or eccentric decision should not be treated as evidence of lack of capacity;
- Any decision made on behalf of someone lacking capacity must be in their best interests;
- Actions taken in respect of a person who lacks capacity must have the minimum effect possible on their basic rights and freedoms.
Sheffield City Council has lead responsibility for implementing the MCA in Sheffield. Further details about the Act and its implementation can be found on the City Council’s website at http://www.sheffield.gov.uk/safe–sound/social-services/mcadols