What is Mental Capacity

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Mental Capacity means being able to make decisions for yourself.

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

When mental capacity is affected

People may have difficulty making decisions for lots of reasons. Mental capacity doesn't mean you're just indecisive or don’t have all the information you need to make a decision. 

It means that you could find it difficult to make a decision because you have:

  • A learning disability
  • A mental health problem
  • A head injury or medical condition that affects the brain

It is important to remember that over time, or with help, people’s ability to make decisions can improve and it is important that people are supported to make decision for themselves.

Planning for your future

You can appoint someone to act on your behalf if you lose capacity in the future, and it can give that person the right to make decisions regarding your:

  • Property and finance and/or
  • Health and welfare

This is known as a Lasting Power of Attorney.  Further information on Lasting Power of Attorney can be found on the Office of the Public Guardian’s website.

You can also influence decisions about your future care and treatment, including the right to refuse treatment. This is known as an Advance Decision.