As a Carer we know there may come a time when you need to support the person you care for to make both routine and important decisions about their financial and property affairs and also their health and welfare.

This may arise because of a learning disability, a neurological condition (e.g. dementia), a mental health problem, or just old age.

Planning for the future

While the person you care for is still able to make decisions for themselves, it is worth them thinking about how they would want to be dealt with if they were no longer able to make such decisions (i.e. lose mental capacity) in the future.

The benefits of planning for the future are many.  These include the person you support giving you precise instructions with regard to any future health treatment (e.g. under which circumstances they would wish to be treated aggressively or only with palliative care).  Another benefit is they can let you know if and how they would like their financial and property affairs to be managed on their behalf.

Many people, as they become older or more infirm, naturally consider how they wish to manage their affairs in the future.  But we also know not every person does this.

If the person you care for, such as an older relative, has not considered and/or planned for the future we do understand it may not be easy to raise such issues with them.  Although you may feel uncomfortable talking about a future where your loved one is no longer able to communicate, if approached sensitively it can offer all concerned peace of mind.  You may find this link to the Ten Top Tips for tackling difficult conversations with your parents helpful.

Therefore, it is important you help the person you care for to consider the future, and understand the legal options available.

The Mental Capacity Act 2005

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 is the law that outlines the legal requirements around decision-making.

The Act provides a legal framework to help empower people to make their own decisions, and to make clear what actions carers and family can take on their behalf.  People must be given the opportunity, with support if required, to make their own decisions.

The Act also protects people who cannot make decisions for themselves or lack the mental capacity to do so.

For people who RETAIN their mental capacity (i.e. are still able to make decisions for themselves) the Mental Capacity Act enables them to:

(a)  Continue to make their own decisions whilst they can

(b)  Make decisions, in advance of losing capacity, that can be used at a future date

(c)  Appoint another person (such as a family carer) to make decisions on their behalf at a future date.  This is the law that covers Lasting Power of Attorney, and more information on this follows below.

For people who CANNOT make a decision for themselves the Mental Capacity Act helps to determine who will do this for them, in their best interests.  This includes situations where the person you care for has not made a relevant Power of Attorney prior to them losing mental capacity.  In this situation the Mental Capacity Act allows for the Court of Protection to:

(a)  Make decisions in the best interests of the person concerned; and

(b)  Appoint another person (such as a family carer) to make decisions on the person’s behalf.  This is the law that covers becoming a Deputy, and more information on this follows below.

Other specific decision-making arrangements

In addition to the Mental Capacity Act 2005 there are other specific decision-making arrangements available to a person if they need help with managing their benefit-related affairs and personal budget.

Different people can be appointed for different roles.

Information on all the available options available (such as Lasting Power of Attorney), including how to set them up, follow below.

Managing the Property and Financial Affairs of the person you care for

You may need to take steps to help the person you care for to manage their property and financial affairs.  The options available are as follows:

➩  Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney – Becoming an Attorney
If the person you care for is able to make decisions for themselves this is the recommended way of planning ahead, in respect of managing their own Property and Financial Affairs.  This
enables them to decide who they would like to make decisions on their behalf, but only if they were not able to do that for themselves in the future.  For further details on this click here.
➩  Court of Protection – Becoming a Deputy
If the person you care for is no longer able to make decisions for themselves, and there is no
appropriate Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney in place, then you need to
apply to the Court of Protection to become a “Deputy”.  For further details on this click here.
➩  Managing Benefits – Becoming an Appointee
If you are neither an “Attorney” nor a “Deputy” and the person you care for needs help with
managing their benefit-related affairs, you can apply to the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) to become an “Appointee”.  For further information on becoming an Appointee click here.
➩  Managing a Personal Budget – Becoming a “Suitable person”
If you are neither an “Attorney” nor a “Deputy” and the person you are care for needs help with
managing a Personal Budget (such as Direct Payments), you can apply to Brent Social Services
to become a “Suitable Person”.  For further information on becoming a “Suitable Person”
click here.

Remember advice on the benefits and other financial support that may be available to both you as a carer and the person you care for can be found on our Benefits & Other Financial Help pages.

Managing the Health and Welfare of the person you care for

You may need to take steps to help the person you care for manage their health and welfare.  The options available are as follows:

➩  Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney – Becoming an Attorney
If the person you care for is able to make decisions for themselves this is the recommended way of planning ahead, in respect of managing their wishes in respect of their own Health and
Welfare.  This enables them to decide who they would like to make decisions on their behalf,
but only if they were not able to do that for themselves in the future.  For further details on this click here.
➩  Court of Protection – Becoming a Deputy
If the person you care for is no longer able to make decisions for themselves, and there is no
appropriate Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney in place, then you need to apply to
the Court of Protection to become a “Deputy”.  For further details on this click here.

Remember that as a carer you must also look after your own health and welfare, and advice on this can be found on our Carers Health and Wellbeing page.

Brent Carers Centre is here to help

Booklets from Other Organisations Page - Carers UK A Guide to Mental Capacity factsheet image 80 x 99For more information on the legal issues mentioned above click here to download Carers UK’s factsheet entitled “What every carers needs to know: a guide to mental capacity“.

Remember if you need help on any matter relating to your caring role, including making contact with Brent Social Services, please Contact Us.

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