In cases where a loved one with dementia is no longer capable of making rational decisions, especially where no Lasting Power of Attorney is in place and where perhaps they are living alone and their safety is at risk, you can apply for guardianship. Eldermera has the legal expertise to help with the application.
Guardianship may be needed when someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s has reached the point where their mental condition means that they do not have the capacity to sign key legal documents like a Lasting Power of Attorney. It can also be an important legal instrument where someone has been sectioned or detained in hospital due to mental disorder under the Mental Health Act.
It is granted through court proceedings and gives the appointed guardian(s) the legal powers to make decisions on behalf of the patient. It is especially relevant if your patient is putting their life or ongoing health at risk, or indeed if they pose a danger not only to themselves but others too.
Guardianship allows the appointed person or persons three key decision-making powers to act in the best interests of their patient. They have the final say as to where their loved one will live, they can stipulate when and where they will go for medical attention and treatment and associated healthcare support services, and finally, a guardianship can ensure that a doctor or mental health professional is enlisted to visit the patient.
“Guardianship is an important legal process which is granted by a judge through the courts. Eldermera’s legal team can explain what it all means, what powers it allows you regarding the wellbeing of a loved one, and how to make an application.”
When a guardian is appointed as a carer for a family member or loved one, their objective is clear: their decisions must be based on securing the least restrictive living circumstances for the patient. They are not in a position to compel the patient to do something they do not wish to do, save for the power to choose where they will reside safely.
It is important to note, however, that guardianship does not allow the guardian to take control of property or assets, and they also have no remit to specify or authorise medical treatment. This underlines the significance of advanced care planning and the value of putting a Lasting Power of Attorney in place before a patient’s condition deteriorates.
If you are appointed as a guardian, your relationship with the patient, and indeed their doctor and others who are delivering their care, is a crucial factor.
It may require all your patience and persuasiveness to ensure that they live safely where you specify because this is the one decision which may go against their will. It is often much better for a patient to live at home rather than experience an extended period in hospital, and it is important that doctors and mental health professionals are consulted on whether guardianship is the most appropriate option.
Guardianship orders are usually valid for six months, after which it will be reviewed and granted again for the same period, and for a year at a time thereafter.
If a guardian has been appointed but the closest relative to the patient objects to it, then it goes to a tribunal to decide whether guardianship remains in place, whether it is withdrawn or whether other court orders need to be implemented.
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