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Decision Making

1. Transitions 2. Decision Making 3. Court of Protection
4. Lasting Power of Attorney 5. Advocacy 6. Deputyship
7. DWP Appointees 8. When I get Older, What Choices Can I Make? 


2. Decision Making

Decision making and the Mental Capacity Act

Some people are able to make every decision about every aspect of their lives; others are only able to make some decisions.  Your ability to make decisions or mental capacity can change.  Just because you aren’t able to make a decision on some things, it does not mean you will not be able to make decisions about other things in your life. A person who cannot make their own decision 'lacks capacity'.

The Mental Capacity Act is the law which ensures that people are supported to make as many decisions as possible. It also protects people who can't make decisions and need others to assist in the process. If a person is deemed to lack capacity, then an assessment under the Mental Capacity Act must be completed. The assessment should be time and decision specific.  This means that the person's ability must be assessed with regards to the decision being made and at the time it needs to be made. The assessment should be completed with the person and professionals who knows them best. 

Some of the decisions you can include:

  • What to wear
  • If you want someone to help you with personal care (getting washed and dressed)
  • If you want someone to look after your money
  • Where you want to live

Understanding Capacity

To be able to make a decision you need to:

  • Understand the information and what is being asked of you
  • Remember the information for long enough
  • Think about the information 
  • Communicate your decision

The ability to do the things above may be affected by learning disabilities, dementia or mental health problems.

Watch this video for more information on decision making. 

What does this mean?

Five rules of the Mental Capacity Act:

  • Assume that people are able to make a decision, unless it is shown that they are not capable
  • Give people as much support as they need to make decisions
  • Don’t treat a person as lacking capacity to make a decision, just because they make an unwise decision
  • If you are making a decision on someone's behalf then it must be done in their best interests
  • When a decision is made for somebody, it must give them as much freedom as possible.

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) is guided by the Mental Capacity Act and it provides protection for vulnerable people (including those with learning disabilities) who might be in hospital or care homes.  The safeguards are used when people do not have the capacity to consent to the care or treatment they need and a decision is made in their best interests.


DoLS will be replaced by Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS) in October 2020.  DoLS and LPS will run alongside each other for one year.  LPS has been extended to include 16 and 17 year olds who may be in supported living, shared lives, or in private or domestic settings.  To find out more about how the change will affect young people with Learning Disabilities, Autism and in Local Authority Care, please visit:

For more information on making decisions, see 

For a decision making toolkit from the Council for Disabled Children, please see


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Court of Protection


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