OPG launch Safeguarding Strategy inc. “Your Voice, Your Decision” Campaign
The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) for England and Wales has just published a six year strategy to improve safeguarding of adults at risk https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/safeguarding-strategy-2019-to-2025-office-of-the-public-guardian. This includes developing a fully online service for users to register a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).
Whilst more adults than ever now have a registered LPA, EPA or Deputyship Court Order from the Court of Protection, the OPG wish to encourage more people to consider and make an LPA so that someone they trust can make decisions for them in case they lost mental capacity. One of their aims is to lower the average age of users and help more people from different backgrounds make LPAs. To do this, it intends to improve its online services.
The OPG also wish to encourage more people to be able to use the “search” facility to check that LPAs, EPAs and Deputyship Court Orders are valid. The Register of LPAs, EPAs and Deputyship Orders is now searchable by the general public. The OPG aim is to work more closely with safeguarding partners in the NHS and local authorities so that those involved in such areas, such as doctors, nurses and social workers, can check that the documentation they are presented with is valid.
Unfortunately, whilst the OPG tried to address the matter of improving its online services in 2015, it was only a partial solution and the online application form still needed to be printed out and physically signed with a “wet” signature and posted to the OPG. It is noted that a change in legislation will be needed before a fully online LPA can be introduced with a digital authentication. The consultation on this, which was held in 2014, drew many objections which feared that a fully electronic system would render the LPA process even more vulnerable to abuse than it currently is. The MOJ postponed the deployment of the fully digital LPA at that time. The OPG comment that they continue discussions with the Ministry and other interested parties, on a way forward.
The six year plan proposed by the OPG includes a national awareness campaign called “Your Voice, Your Decision”, which will encourage more people to plan for their future, and consider making a Lasting Power of Attorney sooner than they would normally do. The OPG launched a blog at the beginning of the month regarding this campaign;