There are many reasons why you might be unable to make decisions for yourself. For example, you could become unconscious or have dementia, a mental health condition, a brain injury or a stroke.
How is capacity determined?
In Northern Ireland, a ‘common law’ test (developed by the courts in legal cases) is used to determine capacity. The test asks these questions:
- Can the patient understand and retain information about their treatment?
- Does the patient believe that information?
- Can the patient weigh up that information, balancing risks and needs, to arrive at a decision?
What if I have a condition where a loss of capacity is likely?
If you have a condition, such as dementia, which may cause you to lose capacity in the future, your doctor should talk to you about the future and encourage you to think about the care or treatment you would want. They should support you to make decisions about what you want in advance.