About mental capacity
Mental capacity means being able to make your own decisions. Sometimes people can’t make decisions because of an illness, disability or treatment. This can be things like:
- a stroke or brain injury
- a mental health condition
- a learning disability
- confusion, drowsiness or unconsciousness
- drug or alcohol misuse
The Mental Capacity Act is a law that protects and supports people who are not able to make important decisions.
Who decides if I can make my own decisions?
Some people are not able to make some decisions. This is often referred to as lacking capacity.
For example, you might not be able to decide whether to have medical treatment, or where to get care and support. However, you might still be able to make day to day decisions, like what to wear and eat.
If you do not have capacity to make your own decisions, then someone else will have to make them for you.
Some of the people who could decide if you’re able to make your own decisions are:
- friends, family members, carers or advocates: for decisions like what to wear and what to eat
- doctors: for decisions is about medical treatment
- social workers: for decisions about how to get support at home, or how to choose the right support or care home
The people involved in making decisions for you, should still involve you. Any decisions made should be to benefit you.
How to choose someone to make decisions for you
You can plan ahead, by letting people know what you want to happen in the future with your care. You can do this by, by making an advance statement.
You can also choose someone to make decisions for you through a Lasting Power of Attorney.
Making decisions for someone else
If you look after someone who can’t make their own decisions, you might have to make decisions for them. Get advice about making decisions for someone else on GOV.UK.