Help to make decisions about your life

Some people can't make decisions for themselves, this is known as lacking mental capacity. We can help if you can’t make decisions for yourself, or you have to make decisions for someone else.

About mental capacity

Mental capacity means being able to make your own decisions. Sometimes people can’t make decisions because of an illness, disability or treatment. This can be things like:

  • a stroke or brain injury
  • a mental health condition
  • dementia 
  • a learning disability 
  • confusion, drowsiness or unconsciousness
  • drug or alcohol misuse

The Mental Capacity Act is a law that protects and supports people who are not able to make important decisions.

Find out more about the Mental Capacity Act on the NHS.UK website.

Who decides if I can make my own decisions?

Some people are not able to make some decisions. This is often referred to as lacking capacity. 

For example, you might not be able to decide whether to have medical treatment, or where to get care and support. However, you might still be able to make day to day decisions, like what to wear and eat.

If you do not have capacity to make your own decisions, then someone else will have to make them for you.

Some of the people who could decide if you’re able to make your own decisions are:

The people involved in making decisions for you, should still involve you. Any decisions made should be to benefit you.

How to choose someone to make decisions for you

You can plan ahead, by letting people know what you want to happen in the future with your care. You can do this by, by making an advance statement. 

Find out how to make an advance statement on the NHS.UK website.

You can also choose someone to make decisions for you through a Lasting Power of Attorney. 

Find out how to make a lasting power of attorney on the GOV.UK website.

Find out how an advocate can help if you don't have someone to make decisions for you.

Making decisions for someone else

If you look after someone who can’t make their own decisions, you might have to make decisions for them. Get advice about making decisions for someone else on the GOV.UK website. 

More information

Find out about the Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice, which gives guidance for decisions made under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

Read the Mental Capacity Act - easy read guide.

Read the booklet Who decides when you can’t?.

Find out about Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards and what it means to be deprived of your liberty.