Your role as Attorney or Deputy amid the coronavirus outbreak
If you are currently appointed as Attorney or Deputy during these challenging times, you may be worried about the practicalities of carrying out your role and how you can continue to act in line with the Mental Capacity Act and Code of Practice. There are specific obligations that you need to consider as set out by the recent Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) guidance.
Your role, obligations and responsibilities as Attorney or Deputy have not changed amid the coronavirus crisis but you must of course, be mindful of abiding by the social distancing measures currently in place. This may mean that you are temporarily unable to physically visit the person for whom you are acting.
The main point to consider is that if there is an urgent decision to be made, can you reliably obtain the views of the person that you act for? In these times of tablets, phones and video conferencing apps, it may be the case that you are able to discuss matters with the person in question. If you cannot use technology to assist you or if you feel as though there are barriers or concerns with the use of this, it may be worth considering if this decision can be delayed until such time as you are able to meet again. You can also consider past decisions or written evidence from the person in question to help you make current and future decisions during this difficult time.
If you, yourself are unwell or self-isolating or shielding, you cannot delegate your authority or ask someone else to make decisions for you. However, as long as you, as Attorney or Deputy are making the decision, you can ask friends, family or people you trust, to assist you with the practical tasks such as attending a bank or doing some shopping for example.
The OPG guidance sets out other options available to you if you are unable to continue to act long term. You can disclaim from your role as Attorney or apply to the Court to end your Deputyship but this is not a decision to be made lightly. This is not something you should do if you wish to temporarily stop acting as these are permanent options.
Disclaiming being an Attorney or stepping down as Deputy may leave the person in question in a vulnerable position, particularly at the moment when the OPG and the Court are both working with fewer staff members and experiencing lengthy delays. If you still wish to consider stepping down, you should first consider who is able to assist the person and how, in the interim, particularly as they will not have any legal authority to act and your legal authority remains until such time as the OPG or the Court are able to confirm that you are no longer appointed.
Further guidance has been issued about gifts, loans and family care payments. These issues are covered in another article, which you can find here.
Should you have any questions or concerns about your role as Attorney or Deputy, either during the coronavirus pandemic or just in general terms, please contact our Court of Protection team on 01752 663295 or alternatively email firstname.lastname@example.org who will be more than happy to assist you. We are still available to help you from a distance, when you need us.