The Deputyship standards have been developed with both professional and public bodies and form an important view of the new approach to support and supervise professional and public authority Deputies. The Deputyship standards clearly set out what is expected of a professional Deputy and provide an important checklist of actions every Deputy should follow. The Deputyship Standards are set by the Office of the Public Guardian.
The standards fall into the following categories; secure P’s finances and assets, gain insight into P in order to make best interests decisions on his behalf, maintain effective processes and organization, have the necessary skills and knowledge to carry out the work expected of a professional Deputy and finally, health and welfare standards.
In terms of securing P’s finances and assets, clear guidance is set out outlining the Deputy’s duty from receipt of the Deputyship Order with respect P’s assets and liabilities. The Deputy is required to carry out a benefits review and ensure that benefits and savings reviews are carried out on behalf of P annually. Guidance is also provided regarding P’s property whereby they no longer reside in the same. A Deputy is required to carry out a property inspection once a year to ensure the property is safe and secure and should also complete an inventory of contents confirming the total value of the same. If P does still reside in his property, the Deputy is required to review the suitability of the property and consider the rent/mortgage payments to ensure all was in order.
The Deputy is required to gain an insight into P in order to make best interest decisions on their behalf. In order to do this, the Deputy should ensure the necessary capacity assessments have been undertaken and are completely up to date. The Deputy should also discuss P’s wishes and feelings and record details of these appropriately. The Deputy must also maintain regular contact with P and his family and visit P once a year.
By maintaining effective processes and organization, the Deputy must establish clear and effective governance between the named Deputy and staff delegated to carry out the relevant tasks on behalf of P. Necessary supervision should also be given to more junior members of staff and the necessary criteria must be considered whereby a best interests decision is required.
The Deputy must have the necessary skillset and knowledge to carry out the work expected of a professional Deputy. This includes ensuring that the Deputy and all delegated members of staff understand the MCA the Code of Practice and the five statutory principles of the MCA and how they are applied within working practices. The Deputy is required to have sufficient knowledge surrounding inheritance tax provisions and have access to appropriate advice and expertise on the same. Also, the Deputy should have access to appropriate advice and expertise regarding tax returns. Furthermore, should any family conflict arise, the Deputy should have awareness of or experience in managing mediation. Without this, a Deputy would not be able to act in the best interests of P and carry out the necessary work at the level expected of a professional Deputy.
Health and welfare standards only apply to those Deputies who hold a health and welfare Order or both a property and financial affairs and health and welfare Order. Standards include, if DOLS is in place, the Deputy must ensure that this is current and up to date. A Deputy must also ensure that a health assessment or review is carried out every year. It is also necessary for the Deputy to keep all professionals involved within P’s care fully updated with respect all matters.
It is imperative that the Deputy follow these guidelines and adhere to the Deputyship standards. These ensure that the Deputy is acting in the best interests of P. In order to ensure that the Deputy is following these standards, regular assurance visits will be carried out. If a Deputy is found to be not following the standards, an action plan will be agreed and put in place in order to address and rectify any of the areas where improvement is required.
Laura Gillin is an associate in the costs and litigation funding team at Clarion. You can contact her at email@example.com or on 0113 227 3631.