Skip to content

When can you say an adult lacks capacity?

If the person cannot:

‘understand the information relevant to the decision’

‘retain that information’
Remember, the person only needs to retain this information long enough to decide

‘use or weigh that information as part of the process of making the decision’

‘communicate his decision’
A person may communicate verbally or non-verbally. So long as he is able to get the information across, he can communicate.

…You might be able to say that he lacks capacity
(Crown Copyright, 2005)

…But make sure you address the information below first

sporda denge ve g

This person probably didn’t want to be kicked. Remember to check this list before deciding that a person doesn’t have capacity… and remember, act in their best interests.

Before saying that the person cannot do any one of the above, make sure:

  • You have explained the options and the outcomes of any decision the patient does or doesn’t make
  • You have tried to explain yourself in a different way
  • You have used language that the person can understand
  • You have checked the 5 key principles of the Mental Capacity Act

Crown Copyright, 2005: Mental Capacity Act 2005, Available Online:


This content has been summarised and quoted directly. The opinion or interpretation of this writer should not be evident. The reference is in accordance with the Harvard system. You must read our full disclaimer (link below) before putting into place anything you see here.

Like this? Think something is missing? Want to discuss the topic? Add a comment below.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.