Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Become an OU student

Download this course

Share this free course

Understanding mental capacity
Understanding mental capacity

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Week 2: Decisions, decisions


How would it feel if you were unable to make decisions for yourself?

Close up of man wearing glasses in deep, pensive thought.
Figure 1 For some, making decisions is not an easy thing

We make decisions all the time without realising how important it is to us: relatively minor, everyday ones like what to wear in the morning or sometimes more significant, life-changing ones like where to live, or decisions between these two extremes. Where a person’s mental capacity is in doubt, their ability to make a decision has to be given careful consideration before someone else makes the decision on their behalf. The nature and type of decision that is required usually requires intervention. Whatever the nature of the decision, some kind of support or intervention is required. This can be relatively straightforward and involve just the person and people closest to them or it can involve more formal assessment procedures and safeguards. The principle followed throughout is that, wherever possible, the person should be enabled to make their own decision.

By the end of this week you will be able to:

  • describe different types of decision and the ones that no one else can make
  • explain how decisions are made and what helps people make decisions
  • explain what is meant by, and who is, the decision maker when a person lacks mental capacity or has fluctuating mental capacity
  • describe in simple terms how decision makers decide
  • describe in simple terms what is meant by an unwise decision.