How to make decisions
As someone’s attorney or deputy you must:
- give them all the help they need to make each decision before deciding they do not have mental capacity to make that decision themselves
- make any decisions in their best interests
- make decisions that restrict their human and civil rights as little as you can
Helping someone make decisions
Give the person all the information they need to make a decision.
Make it easy for them to understand and weigh up the information, for example by:
- allowing plenty of time
- choosing a time that suits them best
- talking in familiar surroundings - for example, their home
- removing distractions such as background noise
- explaining things a different way - in pictures or sign language, for example
Suggest different ways for them to tell you their decision if they cannot tell you in words - for example, by pointing, squeezing your hand, blinking or nodding.
Making decisions in someone’s best interests
Any decisions you make for someone must be right for them (‘in their best interests’). Take into account:
- what they would have decided if they could
- their past and present values and wishes, including moral, political and religious views
Do not make assumptions based on their age, gender, ethnic background, sexuality, behaviour or health.
It can help to:
- write down what the person has told you is important to them
- look at other things they wrote down or recorded (such as household budgets or home videos)
- speak to friends, family or colleagues who know them well
- consult anyone involved in their care, for example personal carers or care home staff
- notice their behaviour and reactions - this can tell you about wishes and feelings that a person cannot express in words
Human and civil rights
Your decisions must restrict the person’s human and civil rights as little as possible. Citizens Advice has information about human and civil rights.
You can never make decisions on someone’s behalf about certain things, such as:
- relationships - for example consenting to sex, getting married or getting divorced
Follow the Mental Capacity Act code of practice when you make decisions.
Difficult decisions and disagreements
Consult the person as well as their family, friends and carers. Including everyone in a ‘best interests’ meeting can help you reach agreement.
If you cannot agree you can:
- get advice about how to reach agreement from the Office of the Public Guardian
- get help from an advocate who can represent the person’s best interests
- find a mediation service
- get help from the social services team at your local council if it’s a disagreement about the person’s care
- ask the Court of Protection to decide if it’s a major disagreement about a serious issue