27 September 2018
New figures published today by the Mental
Welfare Commission show a continued rise in the use of guardianship
orders in Scotland.
A report published today by the Mental Welfare Commission for
Scotland show that the use of guardianship orders, used to
safeguard those who lack the capacity to make their own decisions,
continues to rise.
The Commission monitors the use of welfare provisions of the
Adults with Incapacity Act, and publishes reports on this data.
Today's report includes information on the use of welfare
guardianships across all of Scotland's local authorities.
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.
Of the total guardianships in Scotland, the majority are for
people who either have learning disability (45%) or
dementia/Alzheimer's disease (41%).
These are the main findings of the 2017-18 report:
- The number of existing guardianship orders (13,501) has risen
again, and is up by 12% since 2016-17 (12,082).
- The number of new welfare guardianship applications granted
also continues to rise. In 2017-18 there were 3,084 applications
granted across Scotland, a 5% rise since 2016-17. This represents a
149% increase in the ten years since 2008-09.
- Private applications represented 74% of all applications. The
total number of private applications is up 4% this year, and up
165% in the ten years since 2008-09.
- Local authority applications are up 10% to 792, and account for
26% of total applications.
- A fifth (21%, 636) of welfare guardianship applications granted
this year are for people in the 16-24 age group with learning
- Although the number of indefinite guardianship orders has
decreased, there are 4,990 indefinite orders as of 31 March 2018.
That represents 37% of total active guardianships (13,501).
Mike Diamond, Executive Director (Social Work) at the Mental
Welfare Commission, said: "The continued steep rise in guardianship
applications is concerning. Most relatives find guardianship
helpful, but it is a complex legal process and takes up a
considerable amount of time for care professionals, particularly
mental health officers. Sometimes it is required to allow people to
access Self-Directed Support, which gives greater control over
their own care to people who receive services.
"We believe the law needs to be modernised and streamlined to
ensure care can be provided when it is needed, and to better
protect the rights of people with dementia and learning
disabilities. 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
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.
Indefinite guardianships are those that do not have an expiry
date. The Commission has always suggested that orders be
time-limited, especially for young people where circumstances may
change. Indefinite guardianships should be reviewed regularly, in
keeping with both the principles of the legislation and the Code of
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