Useful information in Bromley

Mental capacity

Everyone is assumed to have the capacity to make their own decisions unless there is evidence that they may be unable to do so and, as such, individuals can prepare for a time when they may lose capacity to make some decisions. The law allows a person to appoint someone, a friend, family member or solicitor, to make decisions for them should they lose their ability to do so for themselves. This is called a Lasting Power of Attorney, and can cover financial matters or health and welfare matters. The Council encourages all adults to consider organising an appropriate Lasting Power of Attorney in order to avoid costly legal procedures for families in the event of loss of capacity of a loved one.

Should a person with no-one to act for them lose their mental capacity they can leave instructions in advance regarding their care and treatment either in an ‘Advance Decision’, in which they can refuse medical treatments, or in an ‘Advance Statement’, in which they can detail their wishes about future care options. ‘Advance Decisions’ are legally binding and must be complied with by doctors and professionals, but this is not the case for ‘Advance Statements’ which are not legally binding.

In 2005, the Mental Capacity Act was introduced to assist people who might find making decisions difficult.

This might be because of:

  • a learning disability;
  • dementia;
  • a mental health condition;
  • an acquired brain injury; or
  • other temporary pressures or illness.

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 exists to protect people aged over 16 who might lose their capacity to make their own decisions independently. The law provides a checklist to be followed by decision-makers, who have to act in the best interests of the individual who lacks mental capacity to make a particular decision, and have to take into account the views of family and friends. The Government has also issued a Code of Practice to support the Mental Capacity Act 2005 which must be followed by professional staff, and which families and informal carers ought to become familiar with.

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