The MCA is one of the most important pieces of law for people with dementia – yet awareness of it is low

Featured article - 18 October 2016
By Sam Cox, Alzheimer's UK

It is my belief that the Mental Capacity Act is one of the most important pieces of law for people affected by dementia. This is for various reasons. The MCA provides people with decision making rights, it enables people to plan ahead for their future for a time when they cannot make decisions for themselves, and also ensures that when decisions are made for them that they are still involved and these decisions are in their best interests. Yet despite how crucial I see this piece of law, I see both professionals and non-professionals that seem completely unaware of it and its provisions. I always jokingly say that if I had a pound for every time I heard the words ‘they have dementia they can’t make that decision’ I would be rich. But all jokes aside this is a serious problem, all too often I see the rights of people with dementia, including the right to make their own decisions being taken away.

I am a huge advocate of the MCA due to the rights it gives people, but we need more people to be aware of it. It is vital to ensure that those affected by the MCA – or those that may be in the future (arguably all of us) are also aware of it. This is for many reasons, but as its key provisions include the right to plan ahead for the future, making decisions now to refuse treatment for example, or creating a power of attorney to enable someone that we trust to be able to make decisions on our behalf. How can someone make these crucial plans for our future when they don’t know about them? And if someone doesn’t know their rights how do they know what they are entitled to?

I see one of the key roles of the National Mental Capacity Forum as awareness raising with everybody – so both professionals and non-professionals. I also want to remind people that it is a role for everyone to ensure that people are aware of the MCA and the powers that it gives people over their own future.

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