Paul McGinnety has been appointed by Governor Lisa Philips as the first Public Guardian for St Helena, in accordance with section 124(1) of the St Helena Mental Health and Mental Capacity Ordinance, 2015. This is a significant step forward for St Helena in protecting vulnerable adults on the Island.
The Public Guardian, within the framework of the Mental Health and Mental Capacity Ordinance, 2015, protects vulnerable adults who lack the mental capacity to make decisions.
“Mental capacity is the ability to understand and make a decision. Some individuals are unable to make some or all decisions for themselves, for instance, persons with a serious brain injury or illness, people with dementia or those with severe learning disabilities.
“When you still have capacity, you can make provision for the time when you may not have it. This can be done through a Lasting Power of Attorney which appoints a donee to make decisions on your behalf in respect of your personal welfare and/or property and affairs. The Lasting Power of Attorney is only triggered if, at some point after having made it, you lose mental capacity.”
If someone no longer has mental capacity in relation to a particular decision and that person did not make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) the Ordinance enables the Supreme Court to appoint a deputy. A deputy may make decisions in relation to a person’s property and financial affairs and/or a person’s personal welfare. If the deputy is ordered to make decisions about a person’s property and financial affairs this could involve managing property, selling property, buying property and conducting legal proceedings on that person’s behalf. If the deputy is ordered to make decisions about a person’s personal welfare this could involve deciding where the person lives, what contact they have with others and consenting to medical treatment on behalf of that person.
The work of donees and deputies is kept under review by the Public Guardian whose role includes:
- Keeping a register of LPAs
- Keeping a register of court orders appointing deputies
- Supervising the deputies appointed by the court
- Receiving security required by the court
- Receiving reports from donees and deputies
- Reporting to the court
- Investigating complaints against donees and deputies, and
- Submitting a yearly report to the Governor
The Public Guardian is urgently seeking interested persons to come forward as deputies. You are eligible as long as you are at least 21 years of age. For property and affairs deputies it would be beneficial to have financial knowledge to be able to make financial decisions for someone else.
People are strongly encouraged to create a Lasting Power of Attorney which must be registered with the Public Guardian. Appointed donees will receive support and supervision from the Public Guardian.
Please contact the Public Guardian, Paul McGinnety (22470), the Adults Safeguarding Team (23172) or the Community Mental Health Team (22593) if you need help or would like further information.
13 September 2016