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Adult Social Care Glossary, v 0.41

Best interests

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The Mental Capacity Act (MCA) provides a non-exhaustive checklist of factors that decision-makers must work through in deciding what is in a person's best interests. Some of the factors to take into consideration are:

- Do not discriminate. Do not make assumptions about someone's best interests merely on the basis of the person's age or appearance, condition or any aspect their behaviour.
- Take into account all relevant circumstances
- If faced with a particularly difficult or contentious decision, it is recommended that practitioners adopt a 'balance sheet' approach
- Will the person regain capacity? If so, can the decision wait?
- Involve the individual as fully as possible
- Take into account the individual's past and present wishes and feelings, and any beliefs and values likely to have a bearing on the decision
- Consult as far and as widely as possible.

Again, it is vital that you record your best interests decision. Not only is this good professional practice, but given the evidence-based approach required by the MCA, you will have an objective record should your decision or decision-making processes later be challenged.

For more detailed information you should refer to the Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice.

Plain English definition
Think Local Act Personal (TLAP) Jargon Buster

Other people should act in your 'best interests' if you are unable to make a particular decision for yourself (for example, about your health or your finances). The law does not define what 'best interests' might be, but gives a list of things that the people around you must consider when they are deciding what is best for you. These include your wishes, feelings and beliefs, the views of your close family and friends on what you would want, and all your personal circumstances.

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