The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) has published updated guidance for lay deputies and what they must do to meet the standards of the role. These can be found on the Government website, where there are also additional standards for public authority figures, and professionals who may also be assigned the role of deputy.
The guidance has been separated out under eight main Standards. These are:
- Deputyship obligations
- Best Interest decisions
- Interactions with the relevant person (known as ‘P’)
- Financial management
- Financial record keeping
- Property management
- Decisions related specifically to health and welfare
- Additional obligations
Under Standard 1a, the guidance states that all deputies (including lay deputies) must have an awareness of the Mental Capacity Act (2005), with enough understanding of the law to perform the role. While there is no expectation on the deputy to be a law expert, the guidance does make a case for a general understanding of the Act and its five principles. The guidance also includes details on initial support should it be so needed. This includes an OPG Supervision case manager as a key point of contact.
While there is a lot of detail in the updated guidance, it is well worth reading. While it can seem a lot at first, it is also useful to bear in mind the following guiding principle:
As a deputy you are expected to act with honesty and integrity and act in P’s best interests. You must use the same care, skill, and diligence in making decisions for P as you would in the management of your own affairs.
This paragraph really does encapsulate the ‘spirit’ of the guidance and how we should all approach the care of our most vulnerable. If you have any questions about Lay Deputyships or associated Mental Capacity tests, please do get in touch.