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This section provides professionals with information about the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA), which came into force in April 2007.

The MCA applies to everyone who works with and / or cares for an adult who may lack capacity to make specific decisions. The inability to make a decision could be caused by a learning disability, mental health problem, a brain injury, dementia or a stroke. There are specific responsibilities for those who work in health and social care and are involved in the care, treatment or support of people over 16 years living in England and Wales who are unable to make all, or some, decisions for themselves.

People who work in health and social care such as doctors, nurses, dentists, psychologists, occupational, speech and language therapists, social workers, residential and care home managers, care staff (including domiciliary care workers), support workers (including people who work in supported housing) and any other health and social care workers are all affected by the MCA; they need to understand its principles and be confident about their practice.

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 Code of Practice (Department of Constitutional Affairs, 2007) explains how the MCA works on a day to day basis and provides guidance to all those working with, or caring for, people who lack capacity. Staff who work with people who lack capacity in a professional or paid role have a legal duty to have regard to the Code of Practice.

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