What is a Guardianship Order?
A person over the age of 16 years old may be subject to a guardianship order if it is felt they have a Mental Disorder and it is necessary in the interests of the welfare of the patient or for the protection of others that they are subject to this order.
The term ‘interests of the welfare of the patient’ could mean that the patient needs to be protected from exploitation from someone such as a relative. There does not have to be an immediate risk, but if this is the case, the doctors who recommend the guardianship order will need to be sure that that there is a real risk that this harm might happen. This could include a relative removing a patient from a care home or supported accommodation.
What is the procedure for applying for a Guardianship Order?
An application for a Guardianship Order can be made by either the patient’s Nearest Relative or an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP).
The application must be submitted to the Local Social Services Authority who will be named as the Guardian or to the Authority for the are where the individual Guardian lives.
The application must be supported by 2 medical recommendations. There is no time limit from when the application must be accepted by the Local Social Services Authority.
Who will be my ‘Guardian’
If you are subject to a Guardianship order, it is likely that the Guardian who can make decisions on your behalf will be a nominated member of your Local Social Services Authority.
The Guardian could also be a member of your family if the Local Authority believe this is in your best interests.
Can I object to a Guardianship Order?
The patient who will be subject to the Guardianship Order cannot object to it.
However, if the patient’s Nearest Relative objects to the Order, the AMHP cannot go ahead with the application. If this happens, the AMHP will need to apply to the local county court to have the Nearest Relative displaced.
What does it mean if I am subject to a Guardianship Order?
A Guardianship order means that you can receive care outside of hospital.
If you are subject to a Guardianship order, the person or authority nominated to act as your Guardian can:
- Require you to live at a specific place;
- Prevent you from leaving the specific place;
- Return you to this place if you leave without permission. Force can be used if necessary.
How long does a Guardianship order last?
Guardianship orders last for 6 months to begin with from the date it is accepted by the Local Social Services Authority. It can then be renewed for a further 6 months, and then once a year.
Can I challenge a Guardianship Order?
A patient subject to a Guardianship order can apply to the Mental Health Tribunal once in the first 6 months of the Order. If the Order is renewed for a second 6 months, they can apply again. They can then apply once a year.
If you were the Nearest Relative of someone who is subject to a Guardianship order, but you have been displaced by the Court as you objected to this order, you also have the right to appeal to the Tribunal.
How can we help
If you are subject to a Guardianship order and wish to use your right of appeal to the Tribunal, or you are a displaced Nearest Relative of someone who is subject to one of these orders, please contact our mental health team who would be happy to provide you with further advice.