2 October 2018
The Mental Welfare Commission for
Scotland today released a report on its visits to adults subject to
guardianship. Guardianship orders are used to safeguard those who
lack the capacity to make their own decisions.
The Commission monitors the use of welfare provisions of the
Adults with Incapacity Act, and publishes reports on their use. In
addition to monitoring at a statistical level, the Commission
carries out visits to individuals subject to guardianship. These
visits are targeted towards people where we identified issues in
relation to possible use of restraint, seclusion, or deprivation of
The majority of guardians are private individuals, usually a
relative, carer or friend. Local authorities have a duty to make an
application for welfare guardianship where it is needed and no-one
else is applying. If this happens, the chief social work officer is
the welfare guardian.
In 2017-18 the Commission visited 291 adults on guardianship. In
almost all cases (92%, 267) the two categories of assessment-care
and treatment, and accommodation-were rated as adequate or
These were the main findings from the visits:
- The Commission identified issues in 23% (67) of visits. The
largest number of these concerns were around the suitability of the
adult's placement (22%, 23) or the level and nature of activities
available to them (22%, 23). These issues were discussed with the
individuals and care managers, and followed up with reviewing teams
- In 19% (54) of all cases, there was no clear evidence that the
guardian had visited the adult in the last six months.
- In half of private guardianships (93 of 187) there appeared to
have been no recent visits by the local authority supervisor. These
visits support guardians in properly using their powers.
- On 11 visits, issues relating to Section 47 of the AWI Act and
medication were raised as a cause for concern. Where an individual
lacks the capacity to consent to medical treatment, the doctor must
complete an s47 certificate before giving the treatment.
Mike Diamond, Executive Director (Social Work) at the Mental
Welfare Commission, said: "These visits are one of many ways the
Commission works to safeguard the welfare of individuals subject to
legislation in Scotland. This year we visited 291 individuals on
guardianship, and we are pleased to say that the overwhelming
majority are receiving a good or adequate standard of care.
"In the minority of cases where issues are identified, we
followed this up with the individuals themselves and with care
managers to resolve them. We would hope, in particular, that local
authorities take note of their responsibility to visit and support
guardians. This did not appear to have happened for half of the
people we visited this year.
"The number of guardianship orders in Scotland is continuing to
rise, as we highlighted last week, and we are concerned by this. We
welcome the commitment of the Scottish Government to reforming the
Adults with Incapacity Act, and look forward to working with them
on this in the coming year."
The full report is available on the Commission's website
here, and includes a number of case studies.
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.
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