COVID-19 & The Impact on Lasting Power of Attorney Arrangements
A Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare is a legally binding document under which the person making it (the donor) appoints someone they trust (the attorney) to act on their behalf in the event that they lack mental capacity in respect of decisions relating to their care and treatment. More often than not the attorney will be a member of the donor’s family.
If a loved one is in need of care or treatment and lacks the mental capacity to be able to be part of that decision making process then it will be their attorney who is asked for their input if such a document is in place. For more details on preparing a Lasting Power of Attorney, please click here.
In the current Covid-19 climate it is likely to prove very difficult for family members to ensure that they are involved in decisions relating to their loved one because of the physical constraints imposed by the lockdown. Despite the crisis, medical professionals and care home staff still owe a duty of confidentiality to their patients and residents and, rightly so, they will need to satisfy themselves that they are dealing with the appropriate person if a decision needs to be made.
The Office of the Public Guardian has set up an on-line process exclusively for NHS staff and local authority staff to enable them to check the official Register to ensure that the appropriate person is involved in any decisions concerning care or treatment. This can normally be achieved within 24 hours and should remove the immediate challenge of an attorney needing to provide evidence of their authority.
Of course, the best option is to be prepared so if you are either a donor or an attorney under a registered Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare please make sure that a copy of the document is readily available within your home and can be found easily in an emergency.