Since October 2007 a person can appoint someone of their choice (called an attorney) to act on their behalf should they lose mental capacity in the future. The powers can cover health and welfare decisions as well as property and finance decisions. LPAs must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). There are two types of LPA:
Since October 2007 adults who have capacity can make an 'Advanced Decision' to refuse a particular medical treatment. Advanced Decisions also called 'Living Wills' are legally binding. You can refuse any treatment so long as you are clear about the type of treatment and you can refuse treatments that would sustain your life. The NHS Choices website provides information about planning for the future.
You can also write down or tell others about your wishes, feelings and preferences about your future treatment or care. These statements are not legally binding in the same way as Advanced Decisions but must be taken into account when deciding what is in your best interests.
If someone has not planned ahead by making an LPA, and it is necessary to give someone on-going authority to deal with a series of long term issues, the Court of Protection can appoint a Deputy to make decisions on the person's behalf. The Deputy must be someone who is 18 years or over. They can be a relative, friend or professional such as an accountant or solicitor.
Deputies can be appointed to take decisions on welfare, healthcare and finance issues for people lacking capacity. Deputies replaced the previous system of Receivership.
The Court of Protection oversees the Mental Capacity Act and has its own procedures and nominated judges. It is especially important in resolving complex or disputed cases where lack of capacity or best interests are an issue.
The Public Guardian and their staff register LPAs. They supervise Deputies and provide information to help the Court of Protection with decisions. They work with other agencies to consider any concerns about how an Attorney or Deputy is operating.
There is a statutory responsibility to provide an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) for adults who may not have capacity and do not have anyone else who can advocate on their behalf. This includes decisions about where a person lives and serious medical treatment. An IMCA can also assist with a care review or where a person is subject to a safeguarding concern. It is the responsibility of staff in the NHS or Local Council to refer for an IMCA.
In Coventry the IMCA service is provided by 'VoiceAbility'. Visit the VoiceAbility website for more information about the service and to download an information leaflet and referral form.
Name: IMCA VoiceAbility
Address: The Old Granary, Westwick, Cambridgeshire, CB24 3AR
Telephone: 0300 303 1660