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

Office Of The Public Guardian

September 20
10:38 2021

Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) will continue to deliver its services and support those planning for the future and who are at most risk in society. As we deal with the impact of COVID-19, 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

Our contact centre hours are:

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

Our services are currently experiencing delays, and we apologise for any inconvenience this may cause. We are following the principles set out in the working safely guidance so that more staff can work safely in the office, and were spending time to ensure our customers get the support they need during this time.

We 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 are experiencing delays registering lasting powers of attorney. Please allow up to 20 weeks from receipt of your LPA for your application to be processed. 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 pandemic

The government has published the COVID-19 Response - Autumn and Winter Plan 2021 setting out plans for autumn and winter 2021/22 in England. See specific guidance for Wales.

On 16 August the government changed the rules on self-isolation.If youre fully vaccinated or under 18 and 6 months youre not required to self-isolate if youve had close contact with someone with COVID-19.Find out whether you need to self-isolate and how you can protect others if:

If you get any COVID-19 symptoms, self-isolate immediately and get a PCR test. Find out more about what to do if you have COVID-19.

Making an LPA is an important decision that you should think about carefully. Please read our guidance on making an LPA during the coronavirus pandemic.

Registering an enduring power of attorney (EPA)

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.

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 try 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. If you have a visit scheduled during this time, an OPG visitor will be in touch. Theyll contact you by phone or email to discuss how a visit might happen, or to give you an update.

Guardianships - Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017

Our guardianships service will continue during the pandemic. You can find guidance online to help if you are thinking of applying to become a guardian or have already been appointed and have enquiries regarding your role. This includes the guardianship (Missing Persons) detailed code of practice and information on managing missing persons finances.

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 pandemic

During the coronavirus pandemic, your role and responsibilities as a deputy or attorney remain the same. However, you should refer to guidance on how to stay safe and help prevent the spread. Read our guidance on being a deputy or attorney during the coronavirus pandemic.

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 pandemic.

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.

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

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