31 October 2017
New figures published today by the Mental
Welfare Commission show a rise of 12.5% in existing guardianship
orders in Scotland, to 12,082 at March 2017.
These orders are granted by a court when a person does not have
the capacity to make some or all decisions for themselves because
of mental illness, learning disability, dementia or other
Welfare guardians are usually a relative, carer or friend, who
will make a private application.
In 2016/17, 75% of all applications were private. The remaining
25% were made by local authorities.
The number of new applications also rose, with 2,853 granted in
2016/17. This represents a 7% rise in one year, and a 114% rise
Forty four per cent of new applications were for people with
dementia or alzheimer's disease, and forty three per cent were for
people with learning disability.
A fifth of all new applications were for people aged between 16
and 24 with learning disability.
The figures appear in a new report published today by the Mental
Welfare Commission. The report also gives a geographical breakdown
in the use of welfare guardianship across the country, showing wide
variations between local authority areas.
Mike Diamond, Executive Director (Social Work), Mental Welfare
"Welfare guardianship can be very helpful for people who find
they have responsibility for someone who does not have, or who no
longer has, the capacity to make decisions of their own.
"So much so, that there has been a 135% rise in private
applications in the last seven years.
"However, the process of awarding guardianship can be complex,
and each application means the involvement of local authorities and
"We, and others, have been working with the Scottish Government
to call for reform of the law, and we understand that Ministers
will issue a consultation on their proposals in the coming months.
We welcome this."
Mike Diamond also called on people to think about their own
future, and consider creating a power of attorney should they ever
become unable to manage their own affairs. He said:
" Given that almost half of new applications were for people
with dementia or alzheimer's disease, I believe that all of us
should consider the idea of creating a power of attorney. A power
of attorney is planned when you are well and have capacity. The
document allows you to make decisions on who can act on your behalf
should you become unable to do so in the future".
A full copy of the report is available here.
Note to editors
The Mental Welfare Commission monitors the use of legislation
related to welfare provision, and parts of the law related to
medical consent and research.
The Commission also publishes advice and good practice guidance
on the operation of the legislation.
Media enquiries: 0131 313 8777