Mental Health and Learning Disability Services for Devon

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Mental Capacity Act 2005

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 for England and Wales received Royal Assent on 7 April 2005 and is expected to come into force in April 2007. The Act will generally only affect people aged 16 or over and provides a statutory framework to empower and protect people who may lack capacity to make some decisions for themselves, for example, people with dementia, learning disabilities, mental health problems, stroke or head injuries who may lack capacity to make certain decisions. It makes it clear who can take decisions in which situations and how they should go about this. It enables people to plan ahead for a time when they may lack capacity. The Act will cover major decisions about someone’s property and affairs, healthcare treatment and where the person lives, as well as everyday decisions about personal care (such as what someone eats), where the person lacks capacity to make the decisions themselves.

The whole Act is underpinned by a set of five key principles set out in section one of the Act:

  • A presumption of capacity – every adult has the right to make his or her own decisions and must be assumed to have capacity to do so unless it is proved otherwise 
  • Individuals being supported to make their own decisions – a person must be given all practicable help before anyone treats them as not being able to make their own decisions 
  • Unwise decisions – just because an individual makes what might be seen as an unwise decision, they should not be treated as lacking capacity to make that decision 
  • Best interests – an act done or decision made under the Act for or on behalf of a person who lacks capacity must be done in their best interests 
  • Least restrictive option – anything done for or on behalf of a person who lacks capacity should be the least restrictive of their basic rights and freedoms. 

Devon Partnership NHS Trust is part of a group of organisations overseeing the implementation of the act amongst the various agencies across the county.

Further information about the act and useful publications are available from the following websites:


Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards


There is also a policy relating to the Mental Capacity Act 2005 available in the publication library which may be viewed by clicking this link.

A Quick Reference Guide to the Mental Capacity Act 2005 is available from the information section of the publications library.

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