You are here
About the Mental Capacity Act
Understand the law behind the Mental Capacity Act, including when decisions can be made on behalf of someone else and what has to happen before someone is deprived of their liberty.
This page will help you understand what the law says about:
- making decisions on behalf of adults who may not be able to make their own
- what has to be done before a person can be deprived of their liberty so that they can get the care and treatment they need.
About the Mental Capacity Act
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 governs decision-making on behalf of adults who may not be able to make particular decisions.
This could be because of, for example:
- a learning disability
- an illness such as dementia
- mental health problems.
It's important to remember these do not in themselves mean that a person lacks the capacity to make a particular decision. The Act and its codes of practice set out:
- who can take particular decisions on someone else's behalf
- when and how a decision can be taken
- when and how people who lack capacity to take decisions about their care and welfare can be deprived of their liberty to get the care they need in a hospital or care home.
The Mental Capacity Act was fully implemented on 1 April 2009.
As members of the Mental Capacity Act Steering Group, we're committed to seeing the principles of the Mental Capacity Act firmly embedded throughout the health and social care system. Find out more about the Mental Capacity Act Steering Group.
Who does the Mental Capacity Act affect?
Everyone working with and/or caring for an adult who may lack capacity to make particular decisions must comply with this Act and its Codes of Practice.
The Act directly affects the lives of two million disabled people, older people and their carers. It affects the way people are supported wherever the live.
It is important that registered persons and other professionals promote awareness of the Act and are aware of their own responsibilities under it. The Codes of Practice provide additional information about how to put the Act into practice.
If you're a provider of services and want to understand your duties and responsibilities, download our guidance from our guidance for providers section.
The deprivation of liberty safeguards
The deprivation of liberty safeguards are the Act's code of practice on what relevant providers have to do if:
- they think that it is in someone’s best interests to be deprived of their liberty so that they can get the care and treatment they need in a care home or hospital.
- the person does not have capacity to make a decision about what is being proposed for them.
If you're a provider of services and want to find out more about the safeguards, how you can apply to deprive a person of their liberty, how we monitor their use and what we will do when we find they are not being followed, download our guidance from our guidance for providers section.
- Last updated:
- 29 May 2017