What Every Caregiver Needs to Know About the Mental Capacity Act 2005

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If you are a caregiver for an elderly loved one, it is important that you understand the Mental Capacity Act 2005. 

Briefly speaking, this act was put into place to protect the rights of adults who may not be able to make decisions for themselves. 

In this blog, we will discuss what the Mental Capacity Act 2005 covers and how it can help caregivers and their loved ones.

The Mental Capacity Act 2005

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 is a law that protects the rights of adults who may not be able to make decisions for themselves. 

Simply, it applies in England and Wales where an adult (aged 18 or over) lacks capacity because they have a disability, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. 

And this means they are unable to understand information given to them by others, or retain this information long enough to use it when making decisions on their own behalf.

Unfortunately, mental impairment can be caused by illness or accidents, which makes communication difficult.

For example, stroke victims with aphasia; deaf people without hearing aids; blind people etc. Here, such persons can still give valid consent if prompted appropriately, but will need help working out what might happen in any given situation before they make a decision about what happens next.

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 and Caregivers

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 protects people who are unable to make decisions for themselves and allows them to be helped or looked after by others, including their caregivers

In addition, this act also sets out when someone can legally give consent on behalf of another person (e.g. if it is not possible for the person to do so). 

In these circumstances, a carer needs to have permission from an attorney acting in accordance with a Lasting Power Of Attorney, registered at the Court Of Protection in order to provide such assistance as may be required.

Sometimes, this may mean actually making some decisions which might normally require personal direction by law.

For instance, where there is no living will, registering advance decisions about end of life treatment preferences or to agree with medical treatment.

Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the Court of Protection

Lasting Powers Of Attorney registered at The Court of Protection under the Mental Health Act 1983 and Mental Capacity Act 2005, allow a carer (or other named attorney) to manage the affairs of an elderly loved one who may not have capacity in certain circumstances.

For example, where they are disabled from making some types of decision due perhaps having dementia or Alzheimer’s disease which makes communication difficult 

Best Practices

To ensure that the Mental Capacity Act 2005 is used correctly there are some key principles to follow when making decisions on behalf of someone else:

  • The person has been offered all reasonable assistance to do so; this could include offering practical support or using aids such as hearing aids etc.
  • They have been given all relevant information about what will happen and why
  • They have been given a chance to discuss things with those involved and understand what is happening
  • They are able to refuse any treatment or decision 
  • Their decision must be independent and acted upon, unless you are acting as an attorney appointed through Lasting Power Of Attorney or Enduring Power Of Attorney document registered under Mental Capacity Act 2005

The Mental Health Act 2005 allows those with mental illness which impairs communication ability despite having capacity (or lack of it) to be detained under the Mental Health Act for treatment until such time as they may regain mental capacity. 

Please get in touch to find out more.

Take a look at our Court of Protection Solicitors, in the meantime.

You may also like:

  1. The Role of a Deputy in the Court of Protection
  2. Contact With Relatives Under Court of Protection Care
  3. 5 Tips on How to Help a Loved One With Mental Illness