Protecting Vulnerable Adults
Some individuals may experience problems making decisions due to the impact of mental illness or disorder, substance misuse or both. As a result they are likely to be vulnerable, and need assistance to engage with appropriate care and support agencies.
The Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 includes provisions on access to independent advocacy, the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 also provides a mechanism to make decisions on behalf of people who lack capacity and provide legal protection for such decisions. The phased implementation of the Adult Support and Protection Bill commencing in the autumn of 2007 makes a number of changes to existing legislation to support adults in their daily lives. The Act contains amendments to:
- The National Assistance Act 1948;
- the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968;
- the Adults with Incapacity ( Scotland ) Act 2000; and
- the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003.
Where the impairment is to a nature or degree where protection of vulnerable adult problems emerge through formal assessments there may be a need to invoke the above legislation
In the spirit of the legislation any act or decision made on behalf of a person must consider the least restrictive option in terms of the person's rights. The Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 does not consider dependence on alcohol or drugs by itself to constitute a mental disorder under the terms of the Act. This does not preclude the use of the Act if there is a co-occurring mental disorder.
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