Margaret O’Connell talks about Care Representative Applications before the Circuit Court.
An application to be appointed a Care Representative may be necessary during the course of an application under the Fair Deals Scheme for nursing home care.
Normally any individual applying for financial support from the HSE towards nursing home costs can make the application in their own right. However if that person has reduced capacity to make decisions for themselves, and does not have an Enduring Power of Attorney in place, then an application will be necessary to allow another person the right to sign the application on their behalf.
It is possible for the person in need of nursing home care to be made a Ward of Court but this is quite a long drawn out and expensive process.
The alternative is an application to the Circuit Court usually by their next nearest relative to be appointed a Care Representative for the purposes of the Fair Deals scheme. The application is made on specified forms, and must be accompanied by evidence from two medical practitioners confirming that the individual involved does not have the capacity to make the application themselves.
As a safeguarding measure, notice that the application is being made must be given to the individual concerned also to allow them the opportunity to object if they wish to do so.
Once a hearing date is obtained, the application will be heard by the County Registrar and if they are satisfied, they will grant an order appointing the applicant as a Care Representative. The order will allow the application to be made to the HSE for financial assistance under the fair deal scheme immediately and that is the only function of the order. It does not allow the Care Representative any other powers to deal with property or assets, but it can be very useful as a fast emergency measure to ensure that funding is in place for nursing home care. It can also be dealt with relatively quickly.
The Assisted Decision Making Capacity Act was enacted in 2015 but is not fully commenced yet. When that is fully commenced there will be other applications possible to help and assist a person without full capacity. If an Enduring Power of Attorney had been put in place while that person still had capacity the need for this application would have been avoided.
It is therefore to be highly recommended that we should all put in place an Enduring Power of Attorney to avoid such applications where possible.
However, if you are in a situation where a relative requires nursing home care and does not have the capacity to make an application for the Fair Deal support, then please do telephone our office. We are ready to assist you through the process and can ensure that the application is dealt with quickly and efficiently. We will help you to obtain the earliest possible hearing date before the Circuit Court, guide you through the process, deal with all the forms and paperwork and represent you at that hearing of the application, making sure to obtain the order as quickly as possible.
About the author: Margaret O’Connell is an Associate Solicitor and a qualified Trust and Estate Practitioner ( TEP) and is a member of STEP international.