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What is the Mental Capacity Act

The legislation is the legal framework for acting and making decisions on behalf of individuals who lack the capacity to make decisions for themselves. The Act is relevant to everyone who works with or cares for a personal with a capacity issues.

It encompasses all historical pieces of case law and clarifies and improves upon the principles established by cases. It also improves upon the principles set down in case law and builds on good practice.

The aim of the legislation is to balance the individual's right to make decisions for themselves with their right to be protected from harm if they cannot make the decision themselves. It does this by assisting and supporting people who may lack capacity and discourages those caring for them from being overly restrictive or controlling.

Decisions covered by the Act are things like day to day matters and decisions about major life changing events. Things that are not covered by the Act are decisions such as consenting to marriage or sex, adoption or IVF treatment. The Mental Capacity Act is not relevant if someone is detained under the Mental Health Act. The right to vote cannot be delegated to another by the Mental Capacity Act and it does not permit in anyway any actions contrary to laws on murder, manslaughter or assisting suicide.

This is a very important piece of legislation for those living in a world where capacity is problematic. If you do not fancy reading the Act itself why not have a look at the Code of Practice which sets out in easy terms the underlying principles and aims of the legislation. It is an essential read if you are involved with the care of someone living with impaired capacity.


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