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Detailed guide: Coronavirus (COVID-19): Office of the Public Guardian response

Office Of The Public Guardian

July 3
08:51 2020

The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) will continue to deliver its services and support those who are planning for the future and at most risk in society. As we deal with the impact of coronavirus, were working hard to maintain our services. We have robust plans in place that will help us to do this.

Well regularly review our position and ability to operate. This might mean that our approach will change to reflect government advice and guidelines. Well update this page if that happens.

Contacting us

It may take longer than normal to respond to calls and enquiries. We have fewer staff in the office and were spending time to ensure our customers get the support they need during this time.

Our contact centre opening hours have changed

From 27 April 2020, our contact centre hours temporarily changed to:

  • Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 9.30am to 5pm
  • Wednesday 10am to 5pm

If you currently act as an attorney or deputy, and have enquiries regarding your role, you may wish to refer to guidance and practice notes to help you make key decisions.

We will aim to keep customers informed and updated on delays, so we ask that you are patient with us during this time. If you have an urgent safeguarding referral which means someone is in imminent danger, then contact the police.

Lasting power of attorney applications (LPAs)

We continue to process and register LPAs. We aim to complete these within 40 working days, however due to the impact of COVID-19 it might take us longer than normal. We appreciate your patience during this time.

If you made your LPA using our online service, youll be able to track the progress of your application without contacting us.

Making and registering an LPA during the coronavirus outbreak

Making an LPA is an important decision that you should think about carefully. An LPA needs to be signed and witnessed by several people please read our guidance on making an LPA during the coronavirus outbreak.

Please remember that you must follow government guidance on social distancing, self-isolation and shielding during this process.

Registering an enduring power of attorney (EPA)

We are continuing to register EPAs. If you have an EPA made and signed before 1 October 2007, you must register it as soon as the donor starts to lose mental capacity. Please read our guidance on registering an EPA during the coronavirus outbreak.

Short-term options for health, welfare and financial decisions

An LPA takes time to register there are other ways people can make certain decisions for you in the short term that are quicker to put in place. Read our guidance on short-term options for health, welfare and financial decisions.

Safeguarding assessments and investigations

We will endeavour to carry out a risk assessment of all new safeguarding referrals within 2 working days and complete investigations within 70 working days. We will do our best to maintain our levels of service across all our frontline work, however some delays are possible.

We are ensuring the most serious and significant safeguarding risks are being prioritised at this time.

Visits

Visitors will continue to conduct some visits over the phone or via video call where appropriate, as an alternative to face-to-face visiting. This is to ensure compliance with social distancing guidelines.

If youre a deputy, donor or an attorney scheduled for a visit during this time, an OPG visitor will be in touch. They will contact you by phone or email to give you an update.

Guardianships - Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017

Our guardianships service will continue, if you are thinking of applying to become a guardian, or have already been appointed as a guardian and have enquiries regarding your role, you may wish to refer to the guardianship (Missing Persons) detailed code of practice or the pages on managing missing persons finances to help you make key decisions.

We recognise how important and reassuring it is for guardians to be able to contact us, especially in the early days of their guardianship. Our usual contact channels remain open and our ambition is to continue to provide as near normal a level of service as we possibly can. It might take us a little longer than usual to contact or update you; this includes responding to any written enquiries, particularly those received by post.

Being a deputy or attorney during the coronavirus outbreak

During the coronavirus outbreak, your role and responsibilities as a deputy or attorney remain the same. However, you must follow government guidance on social distancing, self-isolation and shielding. Read our guidance on being a deputy or attorney during the coronavirus outbreak.

Professional deputies

Professional deputies are appointed by the Court of Protection to make decisions for someone who does not have the mental capacity to make decisions themselves. They will continue in this role during the outbreak.

Professional deputies can sometimes be classed as key workers, but only when they are actively doing something to help the person theyre deputy for. For example, when attending a hearing or making a decision on the persons behalf.

Working together

We are working with colleagues across Ministry of Justice (MOJ) including the Court of Protection to ensure that we can continue to offer the best level of protection and service we can for adults at risk.

We will ensure that we reflect government advice in response to coronavirus to help with reducing transmission and will keep our partners updated on our work.

NHS and social services staff: check if a patient has an attorney or deputy

NHS and social services staff can contact us to check if a COVID-19 patient has an attorney or deputy. We aim to respond within 24 hours, Monday to Friday.

Protecting older people and vulnerable adults

Our customers are often the most vulnerable people in society, we ask that they or those who care for them, keep informed about government recommendations and are well supported.

The government has published guidance on shielding and protecting extremely vulnerable people.

Stay up to date

Check our guidance pages for more information, and we recommend that you refer to these before you contact us. This will allow us to deal with the most serious enquiries and make the best use of our staff while managing an increased work load.

You can also contact us by:

We are continuously monitoring the situation, and will provide updates on our operational guidance on our social media channels: Twitter @OPGGovUK Linkedin and Facebook

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