Mental capacity act (MCA)

The Mental Capacity Act (MCA) covers situations where peopled aged 16 and over, who may lack mental capacity, are involved in making decision. 

People who may have problems making decisions including adults with:

  • a learning disability
  • dementia
  • a brain injury
  • mental health problems.

The MCA also affects people who have to make decisions on behalf of other people. This could include:

  • carers
  • doctors
  • social workers
  • advice workers.

What does the Mental Capacity Act do?

The main principles of the Mental Capacity Act include:

  • assume a person has capacity unless proved otherwise
  • ensure practical steps have been taken before someone is treated as lacking capacity
  • if someone finds some decisions difficult they may be able to make decisions on other things
  • if someone does something unwise, strange or eccentric this does not mean they lack capacity
  • if you make a decision for someone else, you should involve them as much as possible
  • if you make a decision for someone else, it must be in their best interests.

Find out more

For more information about the Mental Capacity Act download of copy of the Government mental capacity leaflet [PDF].

Read our factsheet about the Mental Capacity Act 'making decisions: what happens if you can't'.

Share this page?