Gavin (Jack) Thomas has been appointed as the new Public Guardian for St Helena and Ascension Island, in accordance with section 124(1) of the St Helena Mental Health & Mental Capacity Ordinance, 2015. Gavin will continue the work of the previous Public Guardian, Paul McGinnety, who left the Island in May.

The Public Guardian, within the framework of the Mental Health & Mental Capacity Ordinance, 2015, protects vulnerable adults who lack the mental capacity to make decisions. One of the most important functions of the Public Guardian is to supervise the people who have Powers of Attorney for those vulnerable adults.

Gavin said:

I am delighted to take up my role as Public Guardian. I look forward to the challenges and opportunities it will bring in supporting some of our most vulnerable citizens. In particular, ensuring the protection of those who may not have the mental capacity to make certain decisions for themselves.

Lasting Power of Attorney and Deputyship

Persons can make provision for a time when they may not have mental capacity.This can be done through a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) which appoints a donee to make decisions on a person's behalf in respect of their personal welfare and/or property and affairs. The Lasting Power of Attorney is only triggered if, at some point after having made it, a person loses mental capacity.

If someone no longer has mental capacity in relation to a particular decision and that person did not make a LPA the Ordinance enables the Supreme Court to appoint a deputy. A deputy may make decisions in relation to a person's property and financial affairs and/or a person's personal welfare. If the deputy is ordered to make decisions about a person's property and financial affairs this could involve managing property, selling property, buying property and conducting legal proceedings on that person's behalf. If the deputy is ordered to make decisions about a person's personal welfare this could involve deciding where the person lives, what contact they have with others and consenting to medical treatment on behalf of that person.

The work of donees and deputies is kept under review by the Public Guardian whose role includes:

Keeping a register of LPAs

Keeping a register of court orders appointing deputies

Supervising the deputies appointed by the court

Receiving security required by the court

Receiving reports from donees and deputies

Reporting to the court

Investigating complaints against donees and deputies, and

Submitting a yearly report to the Governor

Source: St Helena Government

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