What is capacity?

Capacity means being able to make decisions for yourself. You have capacity to make a decision if you can:

  • understand and retain information relating to the decision;
  • understand the consequences of any choice you make;
  • take that information into account; and
  • communicate your wishes.

If you are unable to do one of these things then you ‘lack capacity.’ There are lots of reasons a person might lack capacity. For example, you may lack capacity if you are unconscious, have dementia, have a mental health condition, have a brain injury or have had a stroke. Whether you have capacity is decided on a decision-by-decision basis.

For more information, please see guidance on capacity.

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