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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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Mental Capacity Act and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

The Mental Capacity Act makes it clear who can take decisions in which situations, and how they should go about this. Anyone who works with or cares for an adult who lacks capacity must comply with the MCA when making decisions or acting for that person.

This applies whether decisions are life changing events or more everyday matters, and is relevant to adults of any age, regardless of when they lost capacity.

The underlying philosophy of the MCA is to ensure that those who lack capacity are empowered to make as many decisions for themselves as possible and that any decision made, or action taken, on their behalf is made in their best interests.

The five key principles in the Act

  1. Every adult has the right to make his or her own decisions and must be assumed to have capacity to make them unless it is proved otherwise.
  2. A person must be given all practicable help before anyone treats them as not being able to make their own decisions.
  3. Just because an individual makes what might be seen as an unwise decision, they should not be treated as lacking capacity to make that decision.
  4. Anything done or any decision made on behalf of a person who lacks capacity must be done in their best interests.
  5. Anything done for or on behalf of a person who lacks capacity should be the least restrictive of their basic rights and freedoms.

Source: Oxfordshire County Council

Booklets from the Office of the Public Guardian

These booklets, produced by the Department of Health, are designed to help explain the Mental Capacity Act, making decisions and supporting people to be as empowered as possible.

The NHS Choices and the Oxfordshire Advocacy 'Getting Heard' websites offer more information for people, their families and carers.

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