Mental Capacity Act: the British Medical Associations view

The BMA clearly welcome the Act and the introduction of Lasting Powers of Attorney. But judge for yourself after watching the BMA video below:

On trawling through videos on the MCA 2005, I came across the following video, which is a factually excellent presentation by what I believe is a charity The Speak Up Self Advocacy Project on the wider implications of the Mental Capacity Act which should be of interest to the public and health care professionals alike.  The implications of the MCA are not always as straightforward as they seem and are very different from preceding regulations.

Make a Lasting Power of Attorney

The MCA 2005 for England and Wales supports and protects people who may be unable to make some decisions. Find out what the MCA covers and how it can help people.

What is mental capacity?

Every day we make decisions about lots of things in our lives. The ability to make these decisions is called mental capacity.

People may have difficulties making decisions some or all of the time. This could be because they have:

  • a learning disability
  • dementia
  • a mental health problem
  • a brain injury
  • had a stroke

The MCA Code Of Practice has more information and guidance on how to assess someone’s ability to make decisions.

What the Mental Capacity Act covers

The MCA covers major decisions about someone’s property and financial affairs, health and welfare and where they live and everyday decisions about personal care (such as what the person eats), when the person can’t make those decisions for themselves.If you can’t make some decisions, the MCA says:

  • You should have as much help as possible to make your own decisions.
  • People should assess if you can make a particular decision.
  • Even if you cannot make a complex decisions, this doesn’t mean that you can’t make straightforward ones.
  • If someone has to make a decision for you, they must still involve you in the process as much as possible.
  • Anyone making a decision on your behalf must do so in your best interests.

The main values of the Mental Capacity Act

The MCA sets out five principles which are the basis of the legal requirements in the act.

1) Every adult has the right to make his or her own decisions and it must be assumed they can unless it is proved otherwise.

2) Also, a person must be given all reasonable help before anyone treats them as though they are unable to make their own decisions.

3) Just because someone makes what might be seen as a poor decision, it should not be assumed that they are unable to make any decisions.

4) Any decision made for a person who is unable to so for themselves must be done in their best interests.

5) Any decisions made for someone else should not restrict their basic rights and freedoms.

Organisations that protect vulnerable people

The MCA 2005 provides protection and support for people who lack capacity to make their own decisions. This is done through three main organisations:

  • the Court of Protection
  • the Public Guardian
  • the Independent Mental Capacity Advocate

The Court of Protection

The Court of Protection has the power to make decisions about whether someone lacks mental capacity. It can also appoint deputies to act and make decisions on behalf of someone who is unable to do so on their own.

The Public Guardian

The Public Guardian is an individual whose role it is to protect people who lack mental capacity from abuse. The Public Guardian has several duties:

  • registering Lasting Powers of Attorneys
  • registering Enduring Powers of Attorney
  • supervising deputies appointed by the Court of Protection

Independent Mental Capacity Advocates

An Independent Mental Capacity Advocate is someone appointed to support a person who lacks capacity and has no one to speak for them. Independent Mental Capacity Advocates only become involved when certain decisions need to be made involving serious medical treatment. Independent Mental Advocates are also involved in a change in the person’s accommodation where it is provided by the NHS or a local authority.

Mental Capacity Act Training - 360 Degrees Healthcare & Rehabilitation Services Ltd