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Representing a family member or friend who lacks capacity

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You can make decisions for someone who lacks capacity if they’ve previously appointed you as their attorney through a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare (LPA) or Welfare Power of Attorney if you live in Scotland.

However, even if you’re not an attorney, doctors should speak to the relatives, partner or next of kin of the patient to make decisions about what’s in their best interests. They should listen to your views, although legally they don’t have to follow them.

Court Appointed Deputies

If your loved one hasn’t made an LPA and lacks capacity, and there are ongoing decisions that need to be made on their behalf, you can apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as a deputy. This means that you’ll have the legal power to make decisions about certain aspects of their health and care.

Read more information about Court Appointed Deputies.

Making a complaint on behalf of someone else

If your loved one lacks capacity to make a decision and you’re unhappy with the care they’ve received, you can make a complaint on their behalf. However, if your loved one has capacity, you’ll need their permission to make a formal complaint for them. It’s a good idea to get their permission in writing and include it along with your letter of complaint if you’re complaining in writing.

Read more information about making a complaint.


Next of Kin and Significant Other

The term next of kin is sometimes misunderstood. A person’s next of kin is someone who is named to be kept informed of what happens to them in certain situations, for example if they’re taken to hospital from their GP surgery or have an accident at work. It doesn’t have to be a relative or partner – it can be anybody, including a significant other.

A next of kin doesn’t have any legal power and won’t be able to make decisions about the person’s care or treatment if they lack capacity unless they’ve been appointed as that person’s attorney. This is the same with a family member or a significant other.