SCIE’s Mental Capacity Act (MCA) resource

This resource has undergone major changes to support SCIE’s aim of providing an accessible resource that people will come to as their first port of call in relation to the MCA – when people want to know what already works and what might work in future.

Given the potential of the MCA to touch the lives of millions – particularly those who live with learning disability, dementia or mental health problems and those working and caring for them – people can choose from a range of guidance materials and links to access the tools that best support them.

If you’re visiting this resource for the first time, you may find the section below a good place to start.

The site begins with the basics in terms of introductory knowledge and key messages, and builds up through stages, with links to guidance targeted at specific audiences, such as health and social care professions and independent mental capacity advocates (IMCAs).

MCA at a glance

This At a glance summary presents an overview of the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) 2005, which is important to health and social care practice.

About the MCA

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 came into force during 2007. A number of government departments sponsored its implementation. The MCA is designed to protect and restore power to those vulnerable people who lack capacity. The MCA also supports those, over the age of 18, who have capacity and choose to plan for their future.  It applies to everyone working in health and social care who is involved in the care, treatment and support of people aged 16.

Five principles of the MCA

At the heart of the MCA in terms of concepts and values are the five ‘statutory principles’. Consider the five principles as the benchmark. They should be used to underpin all acts done and decisions taken in relation to those who lack capacity.


Those supporting must take all practical and appropriate steps to enable the individual to make decisions for themselves. Explore videos, and e-Learning modules on the MCA and decision-making. 

Assessing capacity

Having mental capacity means that a person is able to make their own decisions. Find out about what mental capacity is, when capacity should be assessed, the test to assess capacity, and who should carry out the assessment.

Best interests principle

The MCA provides a non-exhaustive checklist of factors that decision-makers must work through in deciding what is in a person’s best interests. Read about what is “best interests”, and some of the factors which need to be taken into consideration.

Deprivation of Liberty (DoLS)

To deprive a person of their liberty, care homes and hospitals must request standard authorisation from either a local authority or health body. Resources available include a guide on Deprivation of Liberty, putting DoLS into practice, and DoLS e-Learning.

Care planning

Care planning is a key mechanism for ensuring that the MCA is implemented in social care. It should reflect the principles of the MCA. Read SCIE’s report on the Mental Capacity Act and care planning, and explore e-Learning modules on disagreement and planning for the future.

Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA)

IMCAs are a legal safeguard for people who lack the capacity to make specific important decisions.  Find out more about IMCA, read guides on IMCA and safeguarding, roles and commissioning and monitoring of IMCA service.  View a video on the role of the IMCA.