Code of practice for anyone authorised under an intervention or guardianship order

Guidance for those authorised to make decisions on behalf of an adult with incapacity.

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Principle 3 means that you, as the attorney, must take account of the person's present and past feelings and wishes so far as possible. Some adults will be able to express their wishes and feelings clearly, even although they would not be capable of taking the action or decision which you are considering. For example, the adult may continue to have opinions about a particular item of household expenditure without being able to carry out the transaction personally.

In communicating with the adult the following points may be helpful:

  • take time to explain to the adult what decision requires to be made and what issues are involved;
  • use simple language;
  • choose a time of day when the adult is alert and ready for a discussion;
  • choose a quiet location where interruptions are unlikely;
  • use any aids which might be helpful, such as pictures or videos;
  • where there are language or speech difficulties, seek assessment and support from a speech and language therapist;
  • use appropriate visual aids or sign language for those with hearing difficulties;
  • ensure that any mechanical devices such as hearing aids, or voice synthesiser, are used properly to assist communication;
  • in extreme cases of communication difficulties, seek advice from the adult's doctor about what kinds of specialised assistance might be available;
  • maximise the help of others who know the adult and who are trusted by the adult, for example relatives, friends, GP, social worker, community worker, the adult's named person, befriender or member of the clergy to ascertain whether the adult has recently expressed views on the matter in question; or to help you to explain the matter to the adult and seek the adult's views; but be careful to ensure that they are helping to communicate the adult's views without imposing their own. (Their own views may also be important, but that is a separate matter.)

If English is not the adult's first language, engage an interpreter, preferably one who has interpreted for the particular individual before, in case of differences in dialect are significant.

If the person belongs to a particular ethnic or cultural group and would feel more secure communicating with a member of that group, identify someone from that group or who regularly works with that group with the necessary skills to communicate with the person.

  • Use the services of an independent advocacy project which supplies volunteers or other staff to promote independently the rights, views and wishes of people who have difficulty in expressing these for themselves. For further information on advocacy; refer to 'Advocacy - a guide to good practice' (see further information at the end of this code);
  • seek specialist help from a Speech and Language Therapist or specialist social worker, e.g. learning disability.
  • if all efforts fail, be prepared to abandon the attempt and try at another time.

For further detailed information see 'Communication and Assessing Capacity. A guide for social work and health care staff' (Scottish Government). Carers and others involved with supporting the adult may also find this useful. It is a web-based publication only.

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