Applying The Five Principles Of The Working Mental Capacity Act

As a deputy you’re responsible for making decisions on behalf of someone who may not have the capacity to do so. Depending on whether you’re a lay, professional or public authority deputy, when you first receive your court order, you might know the person very well, or you might not know them at all. This will affect the way you make decisions for them.

We always say the first thing you should do when you receive a court order is to get to know the person, if you don’t already. This is so that when you do need to make a decision, you’ll know if you can help them make it themselves. If they can’t make the decision it will help you choose the right thing, that in their nest interests.

Even when you know the person well, you should always be guided by the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA). Section 1 of the Mental Capacity Act sets out five basic and fundamental principles which all those working with people over the age of 16 should adhere to.

  1. A person must be assumed to have capacity unless it is established that he lacks capacity. (subsection 2)
  2. A person is not to be treated as unable to make a decision unless all practicable steps to help him to do so have been taken without success. (subsection 3)
  3. A person is not to be treated as unable to make a decision merely because he makes an unwise decision. (subsection 4)
  4. An act done, or a decision made, under the MCA for or on behalf of a person who lacks capacity must be done, or made in his best interests. (subsection 5)
  5. Before the act is done, or the decision is made, regard must be had to whether the purpose for which it is needed can be as effectively achieved in a way that is less restrictive of the person’s rights and freedom of action. (subsection 6)

– OPG In Touch Spring 2018

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