Singapore

Course to train workers to support those who have lost mental capacity

A course has been launched to train professionals as support for individuals who have lost their mental capacity and have no immediate family to turn to for making decisions on their behalf.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) yesterday said registration was open for the first certification course for professional deputies and donees.

The course, developed by MSF in collaboration with the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS), is for those who have relevant experience with mental capacity, among other criteria, such as lawyers and accountants, as well as healthcare and social service professionals.

Under the Mental Capacity Act (MCA), individuals can appoint donees through the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) to act on their behalf should they become unable to do so themselves.

Last year, more than 95 per cent of donees appointed in LPAs, which are legal documents, were members of the donor's immediate or extended family. In cases where individuals have become incapacitated without appointing a donee, family members must apply to the courts to be appointed as deputies.

There will also be those who want to make an LPA, but do not have a strong family network or someone they trust to make decisions for them. These could be seniors who are single or widowed, or do not have children.

To fill such gaps, the MCA was revised in 2016 to allow professional deputies and donees to provide such services for a fee.

APPOINTED

Professional deputies, appointed by the court for an individual without a donee prior to losing mental capacity, and donees appointed by an individual who still has mental capacity, must not be related to the person they are appointed to act for.

The first four-day course, to be conducted at SUSS in July, will take up to 25 participants.

The course fee - including examination - will be between $1,200 and $1,680. To take the exam only will cost $168.

MSF said it would monitor the demand for such services and calibrate the intake for the course accordingly.

Mrs Sara Tan, 59, executive director of the Society of Sheng Hong Welfare Services, said the scheme would be useful for Life Point, a service centre under the non-profit organisation.

Mrs Tan and her seven staff members have expressed interest in the course.

She said: "We have encountered cases where the elderly cannot find suitable or trusted donees because they are single, widowed or have strained family relationships.

"As they have not assigned anybody to look after their financial and personal affairs, it is difficult to make timely arrangements, such as getting access to their bank accounts, or to meet immediate care needs."

She said the scheme can provide an alternative option for those who wish to make an LPA but are constrained by personal circumstances.

"I foresee that it would gain greater momentum in future in view of the increase in the number of people who stay single."

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