Explain what is meant by the term ‘capacity’ and why it is important to assume that someone has capacity unless there is evidence that they do not

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

Mental capacity is an individual’s ability to make decisions for themselves. This means being able to understand, retain and weigh up information to make and informed decision.

Mental health conditions, dementia and learning disabilities can affect a individual’s capacity to make decisions, however it is important to remember that all individuals have the right to make their own decisions unless there is evidence that proves they cannot.

Therefore, you should always assume that an individual has the capacity to make their own decisions, even if you do not agree with the choices that they make. This is part of a person-centred approach and encompasses the person-centred values of choice, independence, respect and choice.