The MCA focuses on an individual’s right to make their own decisions, and assumes that a person has the capacity to make the decision (principle 1). Every effort must be taken to encourage and support the person to make the decision for themselves (principle 2). The MCA says that before anyone acts on behalf of someone who lacks capacity they must be able to demonstrate that the person lacks capacity.
To assist in answering the question of whether the person has capacity, you will need to check the following:
- Does the individual have all the relevant information needed to make the decision?
- If there is a choice of options, has information been provided on the alternatives?
- Have the communication needs of the individual been taken into account? The information needs to be presented in a way that is easier for them to understand.
- Have different communication methods been explored, including obtaining professional or carer support?
- Consider the risks and benefits, including describing the consequences of making a decision, and making no decision.
Video case studies
Mental Capacity Act making ‘best interests’ decisions moving home
Khurrum is 19 and has severe learning disabilities. His key worker is Julia and his social worker is Saleema. Khurrum is unable to make the decision about whether to move to a residential care home for himself, so Julia and Saleema discuss his best interests in relation to this. The video demonstrates the importance of consultation in best interests decision-making.
Mental Capacity Act making 'best interests' decisions moving home
Mental Capacity Act: respecting the right to make ‘unwise’ decisions
The context of this case study is whether Raymond, a man in his 80s recently diagnosed with dementia, has the capacity to make a decision about spending £50 on lottery tickets. Wendy, who visits daily and provides support to Raymond, decides that Raymond has capacity to make what others might think an ‘unwise decision’. While supporting Raymond to make his own independent decision, Wendy records the decision to comply both with the MCA and good record-keeping practice.