Tuesday 21 January 2020
The Committee for Health & Social Care has published a Policy Letter on the development of Capacity legislation for the Bailiwick of Guernsey.
This legal framework will empower individuals who may lack capacity to make their own decisions where possible, to allow them to plan for the future and, if they lack capacity, to ensure that decisions made on their behalf respect their basic rights and freedoms.
The Policy Letter asks the States to agree to include a number of areas into the law so that the drafting of the legislation can be finalised. If approved, the Law will include Lasting Powers of Attorney, which will enable people to register their wishes in advance and to nominate one or more people to act on their behalf in relation to property and financial affairs and/or health and welfare matters if they lose capacity. It will also introduce a Protective Authorisation Scheme to safeguard the interests of individuals who no longer have capacity, along with other related issues, such as advance care planning, representation and safeguarding.
The Policy Letter also asks the States to agree to allocate additional funding to the Guernsey Legal Aid Service to ensure that, in due course, those who may wish to appeal decisions taken on their behalf under the proposed Protective Authorisation Scheme are able to receive Legal Aid to do so.
Furthermore, there is a specific Proposition directing the Committee to return to the States with proposals for an advocacy service. This was highlighted as a gap in service provision following a review of mental health and wellbeing services and will be important to support Islanders who may not have family and friends to assist them.
Deputy Heidi Soulsby, President of HSC said:
'The development of the Capacity Law has been the top legislative priority for the Committee for Health & Social Care and we recognise the importance of the legislation to the community. The previous States Assembly agreed that we would have a capacity law and the proposals in the Policy Letter take account of best practice and learning from other jurisdictions.
The Committee is particularly grateful to all of those organisations and individuals who have helped to shape the proposals based on their knowledge and experience of these often complex issues.'
Deputy McSwiggan, Member of the Committee for Health & Social Care and a representative of the Disability & Inclusion Programme Board adds:
'The Capacity Law is an important part of the Disability & Inclusion Strategy. Such laws are especially important for people with dementia, learning disabilities and mental disorders, to help to protect people's freedom and right to make decisions about their own life. When people aren't able to make decisions for themselves, Capacity law allows them to hand over decision-making responsibility to a trusted person, and provides sensible checks to make sure they aren't being exploited, and their personal preferences and best interests are not forgotten.'
If the Policy Letter is approved, the Law will return to the States Assembly for approval before the end of the current political term.