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Support for people who do not have capacity

A person who lacks capacity is defined under the Mental Capacity Act as:

a person lacks capacity in relation to a matter if at the material time he is unable to make a decision for himself in relation to the matter because of an impairment of, or a disturbance in the functioning of the mind or brain.


The five principles

  1. Assume a person has capacity unless it is proved otherwise
  2. Do not treat people as incapable of making a decision unless all practicable steps have been tried to help them
  3. A person should not be treated as incapable of making a decision because their decision may seem unwise
  4. Always take decisions for people without capacity in their best interests
  5. Before doing something to someone or making a decision on their behalf, consider whether the outcome could be achieved in a less restrictive way

Deprivation of Liberty (DOLS)

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 provides a statutory framework for acting and making decisions on behalf of people who lack the capacity to make those decisions for themselves. These can be small decisions such as what clothes to wear or major decision such as where to live.

In some cases, people lack the capacity to consent to particular treatment or care that is recognised by others as being in their best interests, or which will protect them from harm.

Where this care might involve depriving vulnerable people of their liberty in either a hospital or a care home, extra safeguards have been introduced, in law, to protect their rights and ensure that the car or treatment they receive is in their best interests.