With the aging population in Singapore, there is a rising concern for risk of lack of mental incapacity due to illness and old age. The Mental Capacity Act came into effect in 2010 and it has laid down the principles of what is mental capacity and what may cause the loss of mental capacity.
The framework for the appointment of professional deputy and donee, their duty and responsibility were also defined and regulated under the said Act. The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) under the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) was established to carry out functions such as maintenance of registers of deputies, Lasting Power of Attorney (“LPA”), and supervisory role over deputies and donees. One can now make an LPA to appoint person(s) to act as their donee(s). The maker of the LPA commonly referred to as the Donor.
However, there remains a concern for individuals who may not have family members or close friends who can be their decision makers (i.e. to be their deputy or donee). The Mental Capacity (Registration of Professional Deputies) Regulations 2018 (the “2018 Regulation”) came into effect on 1 September 2018, allowing professional deputies to act for persons who lose mental capacity for remuneration.
The Professional Deputies and Donees (PDD) scheme, set up by the MSF, aims to help individuals, in particular single elderly or childless elderly couples, who may not have family members or close friends to rely on to be their proxy decision makers. Under the PDD scheme, eligible classes of professionals such as lawyers, accountants, nurses, and social workers can register and certify themselves to be PDD. PDDs are supervised and regulated by the OPG.
Professionals from TOUCH Community Services are some of the pioneers who are qualified to provide the PDD service. TOUCH is a Social Service Agency and a member of the National Council of Social Service. TOUCH’s team of professionals are registered social workers who are experienced in providing care to the elderly and people with special needs. With close to 30 years of experience serving the community, TOUCH can leverage its expertise to address issues on the ground and explore best care options for the individual.
Donors who are interested can now approach TOUCH to appoint a Professional Donee to handle their personal welfare and/or property and affairs matters. Under the PDD scheme, only individual PDD from TOUCH can be appointed. To ensure continuity and reliability of services to the Donor, TOUCH will appoint the main and replacement Donee. All PDDs also come under the supervision of the OPG with safeguards in place.