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Mental Capacity Act

Last updated: 03/05/2020

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) is designed to protect and empower people who may lack the mental capacity to make their own decisions about their care and treatment. It applies to people aged 16 and over.

It covers decisions about day-to-day things like what to wear or what to buy for the weekly shop, or serious life-changing decisions like whether to move into a care home.

Examples of people who may lack capacity include those with:

But just because a person has one of these conditions doesn't necessarily mean they lack the capacity to make a specific decision.  Someone can lack capacity to make some decisions (for example, to decide on complex financial issues) but still have the capacity to make other decisions (for example, to decide what items to buy at the local shop).

The Mental Capacity Act says:

  • assume a person has the capacity to make a decision themselves, unless it's proved otherwise
  • wherever possible, help people to make their own decisions
  • don't treat a person as lacking the capacity to make a decision just because they make an unwise decision
  • if you make a decision for someone who doesn't have capacity, it must be in their best interests
  • treatment and care provided to someone who lacks capacity should be the least restrictive of their basic rights and freedoms.

These are known as the five key principles.

Find out more information about the Mental Capacity Act

The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) has produced some informative videos to help understand the MCA – please see

The Mental Capacity Act Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards applies to anyone:

  • aged 18 and over
  • is currently resident in a care home or hospital
  • who suffers from a mental disorder or disability of the mind - such as dementia or a profound learning disability
  • who lacks the capacity to give informed consent to the arrangements made for their care and / or treatment.
  • And are under continuous supervision and control and not free to leave (the Acid Test)

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguarding

The Optalis DoLS team manage DoLS applications for people who live in Windsor and Maidenhead. If someone is at risk of being deprived of their liberty or is already being deprived of their liberty, they must apply to Optalis DoLs Team.

You can contact our Deprivation of Liberty Safeguarding team on 01628 682919 or email:


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