The Mental Capacity Act 2005 is a law that protects your rights if you become unable to make decisions for yourself. Within the Act there are a set of rules that apply if you do not have the capacity to make decisions about your care - these are the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS).
The Mental Capacity Act deals with the assessment of a person's capacity and acts by carers of those who lack capacity. The Act applies to all people aged 16 years and over, in England and Wales.
Examples of people who may lack capacity include people with:
Section 2 of the Mental Capacity Act states:
a person lacks capacity in relation to a matter if at the material time he is unable to make a decision for himself in relation to the matter because of an impairment of, or a disturbance in the functioning of, the mind or brain”.
It is noted that impairment or disturbance does not have to be permanent in nature for the Mental Capacity Act (2005) to be applicable, it could also be short term meaning your ability to make decisions changes day to day.
The Act is a law to enable and support people who lack capacity to make particular decisions, but also to maximise their ability to make decisions, or participate in decision making as far as they are able to.
The five core principles are:
The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) provide protection for people who are in hospitals or care homes to ensure they are cared for in a way that does not restrict their freedom. They need more care and protection than others to ensure they do not suffer harm and are deprived of their liberty because they cannot make their own decisions about their care or treatment as they lack the mental capacity to do so.
Hospitals and care homes always try to avoid this and it is only used if it is the least restrictive way to ensure an individuals best interests to prevent harm.
Your liberty can be taken away under the Mental Capacity act if:
• You are 16 or over
• You lack capacity to give consent to your care/treatment
• Your care home or hospital have applied for DoLS authorisation from the supervisory body
• The Deprivation of Liberty safeguards are followed
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