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Making decisions for someone else

Sometimes people are unable to make decisions for themselves and need others to do it for them.

Helping others to make decisions
Helping others to make decisions

Mental Capacity Act (2005)

The Mental Capacity Act (MCA) is designed to protect and empower people who may not be able to make their own decisions about their care and treatment. It applies to people aged 16 and over.

The act covers decisions about day-to-day things like shopping, or serious life-changing decisions like whether to move into a care home or have major surgery.

Find out more about the Mental Capacity Act from NHS Choices

Assessing mental capacity

A person is assumed to be able to make their own decisions unless it has been established otherwise.

In order to decide whether an individual has the capacity to make a particular decision you must first answer two questions:

  1. Is there an impairment of, or disturbance in the functioning of a person's mind or brain?
  2. If so, does the impairment or disturbance mean that the person is unable to make a specific decision?

The following four things should then be considered:

  1. Does the person understand the information given to them is relevant to the decision to be made?
  2. Can the person remember the information long enough to be able to make the decision?
  3. Can the person weigh up that information as part of their decision making?
  4. Can the person communicate their decision (whether by talking, using sign language or any other means for example, simple muscle movements such as blinking an eye or squeezing a hand).

Information about mental capacity testing is available at NHS Choices. Assess Right is an excellent easy-read guide to mental capacity assessments jointly published by NHS Aylesbury Vale CCG and NHS Chiltern CCG.

Assess Right guide to mental capacity assessments

Mental capacity testing at NHS Choices

Lasting power of attorney

A lasting power of attorney (“LPA”) is a legal document that lets you appoint one or more people (known as ‘attorneys’) to help you make decisions or make decisions on your behalf. You can have an LPA for property and finances and health and welfare.

Find out more about lasting powers of attorney below

Lasting powers of attorney on the website

Lasting powers of attorney on NHS Choices

Office of the Public Guardian

Deputies and the Court of Protection

Deputies are authorised by the Court of Protection to make decisions on behalf of people without the mental capacity to do so themselves.

Further information about Deputies (

Deprivation of liberty (Restricting freedom of movement)

Some people may need extra protection to protect them from harm. This may mean restricting their freedom to the point of depriving them of their liberty.

Deprivation of Liberty (an amendment to the Mental Capacity Act 2005), provides a legal framework for authorising restrictions to movement, so that treatment or care can be provided in a care home or hospital.

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) make sure that people's liberty is only restricted lawfully.

Further information about Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (new window)

Applications must be made to the supervisory body to have someone assessed where it is believed that they should be deprived of their liberty.

Contact us

If you are worried about a friend family member, please contact us:

Buckinghamshire County Council
DoLS Advice Line: 01296 382195
Fax number for referrals: 01296 383338

Further information about Deprivation of Liberty (MIND UK)

Forms are available to download on the GOV.UK website.


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