The Mental Capacity Act looks at how decisions are made concerning adults. It applies to all people who are 16 and over in England and Wales. There are different rules for children.
The law says that we must help people to make their own decisions wherever possible. When a person cannot make their own decision, other people will need to decide what is in their best interests.
Often the person's family will make these decisions but sometimes other people must make the decision.
If it is a medical decision, this will be made by the doctor.
Sometimes the local authority will make some decisions.
Anybody making ‘best interests' decisions on behalf of a person with profound and multiple learning disabilities must consult with the person's family and others who know the person well.
Mental Capacity Act: resources for families and carers
Mencap has produced a practical toolkit for families and carers to:
enable their involvement in best interests decision-making
equip them with the information they need about the Mental Capacity Act
help them understand how the act impacts on a range of decisions.
The resource is aimed primarily at families and carers of people with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD). It focuses particularly on securing the best outcomes for people with PMLD in dealing with healthcare services and gaining a better understanding of their rights.
Videos that accompany the resource
Watch videos about how initiatives such as Hospital Passports and Health Action Plans are improving health care for people with a learning disability.
Find out more about the Mental Capacity Act and how Health Action Plans are improving healthcare for people with a learning disability.
As shown above, this video case study explores how families are finding Hospital Passports a vital tool alongside Health Action Plans.
To order a free copy of the resource and videos on CD-Rom:
Telephone: 020 7696 6900
More about the resource
People with PMLD have more than one disability, have a profound learning disability and have great difficulty communicating. They need high levels of support with most aspects of daily life and may have additional sensory or physical disabilities, complex health needs or mental health difficulties. They may also have behaviours that challenge us.
Families' and carers' understanding of the nuances of their loved one's communication makes them an invaluable resource for healthcare and social care professionals in involving the person as much as possible and ultimately in making decisions in the individual's interests.
The resource will also support families to consider the Mental Capacity Act early, rather than having to learn about it at a point of crisis.
The resource was co-ordinated by Mencap and funded by SCIE (Social Care Institute for Excellence), with families providing invaluable guidance through an advisory group.
Further resources and information
- Find out about the Best interest decision-making tool, which helps ensure you are involved when best interest decisions are being made about a loved one.
- Visit the HfT website for videos and downloads on the Mental Capacity Act.
- Find out about the new Awareness of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 qualification developed by Skills for Care.
- Read about Mencap's campaign work regarding mental capacity and consent.
- Read Sam's story and find out why mental capacity and consent is such an important issue for people with PMLD.
Who to contact
For any queries about the Mental Capacity Act in general please contact:
Information and policy officer for profound and multiple learning disabilities