Consent and capacity (easy read)

It is important that people with learning disabilities can be supported to make decisions about their treatment. Sometimes there are big choices to make like whether to have an operation.

This is an easy read document

Helping you make important choices

Yes or no

Consent is being asked if you agree to something.

This means saying yes or no.

Sometimes we have to make very big choices like:


Do I want to live in this house?


Should I have an operation at hospital?


Capacity is whether you understand the choice you need to make.

The law says that everyone over 16 years old can make their own choices unless we find out they can’t.

We must work hard to help people understand their choices before we say they don’t understand.

Helping you to make big choices

A conversation

There are many things the law says people must do to help you understand the choice.

Spend time with you explaining things.


Get help from someone who knows you well and can help you communicate.

A form

Use things like easy read factsheets, photos, and pictures, to help you understand.

Visiting a hospital

Help you visit places like a hospital or an opticians to help you understand the choice.

An optician is someone who tests your eyes.

A ticked checklist

To give consent you need to be able to:

  • Understand the information about the choice
  • Remember the information long enough to make a choice
  • Think about what is best for you
  • Communicate your choice

What if you cannot understand the choice?


If you really cannot understand your choice other people will need to make the choice for you.

If you are aged 16 or over a family member, social worker, advocate, or care worker cannot usually give consent for you.

They can only give consent for you if the law says they can.

They need to have been appointed as a Deputy, or have Lasting Power of Attorney.


Even if you are not able to consent to one big choice, it does not mean you cannot consent to other big choices.

Thinking about your ‘best interests’


This means what is best for you.

Getting help

It is important that you have all the help and treatment you need to stay healthy and well.

This can include things like:

An eye test
  • Having your eyes tested.
A doctor
  • Having an eye operation if you have cataracts.

People may agree that having an eye test or an operation is the best thing for your health.

A choice

People cannot decide for you in your ‘best interest’ just because they do not agree with your choice.

A ‘best interest’ meeting

A meeting

If you cannot make an important choice yourself there should be a ‘best interest’ meeting.

Two people

At the meeting people talk about what is best for you.

You should go to the best interests meeting if you are able to.

You can also invite your family or an advocate.

An advocate

If you don’t have a relative or your own advocate an Independent Mental Capacity
Advocate can be found.

They are known as an IMCA.

An IMCA can help with choices like having medical treatment or changing where you live.

An agenda

People at the meeting will need to talk about:

  • If it is best that you have the treatment.
  • The best way to do the treatment so you do not get very upset.
  • Helping you get better after the treatment.
Mental capacity act

This factsheet is a summary of parts of the Mental Capacity Act 2005