The Mental Capacity Act (MCA) 2005 provides a statutory framework for people who may not be able to make their own decisions, for example because of learning difficulties, brain injury or mental health problems. It sets out who can take decisions, in which situations, and how they should go about this. The Act applies to England and Wales only.
To undertake research with those that lack capacity, the MCA requires a researcher to obtain approval from an ‘appropriate body’. The Social Care REC is recognised by the Secretary of State as an appropriate body.
The Department of Health have produced a Fact Sheet (50kb PDF file) for Social Scientists about the Mental Capacity Act. The Fact Sheet looks at the MCA, the kinds of research it covers, obtaining consent and frequently asked questions.
NRES have also produced a number of guidance documents and an on-line toolkit about research and the MCA. The documents and on-line toolkit are available from the NRES website.
There is a MCA resource section on the SCIE website which aims to provide accessible resources that people will come to as their first port of call in relation to the MCA – when people want to know what already works and what might work in future.