Ask Sheila - Archive England

Sheila Scott OBE has now retired and therefore is no longer available to answer your social care questions. However, you might still find the answer you’ve been searching for down below.

05th September 2018

How many stages are there in the test of capacity?

Hi Sheila,  I keep hearing about a test which needs to be completed for Mental Capacity. Can you tell me how many stages there are in this test?


Dear S,


Thank you for your question.


There are two parts to the assessment of whether or not a person has the capacity to make a particular decision:


Step 1. Before making the assessment


You must act from the assumption that the person has capacity to make the decision but:


Does the decision need to be made without delay:


If not, is it possible to wait until the person does have the capacity to make the decision for himself or herself?


If the answer to question 1 is YES then proceed to the assessment.


If the answer to question 1 is NO then delay the making of the decision.


Step 2. The assessment


Is there an impairment of, or disturbance in, the functioning of the person’s mind or brain (it does not matter if this is permanent or temporary)?


If yes, does the impairment or disturbance make the person unable to make the particular decision?


If the answer to both those questions is NO then the person has mental capacity to make their own decisions.


If the answer is YES to either question then you need to decide the following;


Is the person able to understand the information relevant to the decision, including understanding the likely consequences of making, or not making the decision?


Is the person able to retain that information?


Is the person able to use or weigh that information as part of the process of making the decision?


Is the person able to communicate their decision (whether by talking, using sign language or any other means)?


If the answer to any of these four questions is NO then the person does not have the mental capacity to make a decision.


Any decisions made in relation to the Mental Capacity Act must be properly and formally recorded.


In many of the more difficult decisions several people may be consulted.


I hope that this is helpful.


There is a great deal of information about the Mental Capacity Act on the website of the Office of the Public Gradian.


Best wishes.




*All information is correct at the time of publishing.

About Sheila

Sheila Scott OBE has now retired and over the years , prior to her retirement she has answered thousands of your social questions. You can still access the many questions below.

For Sheila Scott OBE as the former CEO of National Care Association (NCA), care is Sheila's life. She possesses a strong command of the issues facing the care sector informed by her long career as a nursing professional, the owner and manager of a care business, and as a leader in the care sector.

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