Caring for an Older Adult
Caring for an Older Adult who Needs Help Today
ARE YOU IN THE RIGHT SECTION?
This section is for British Columbians who are:*
- An adult (19 years or older), and
- Their mental capability is currently in question. As adults they used to be able to make decisions and manage their own affairs but now need assistance –for example, due to advanced dementia, serious stroke or other condition.
- They may need help in the short-term or ongoing.
* If you are helping an adult who has a disability from birth or childhood that calls their mental capability into question click here.
* If you are mentally capable of making your own decisions now and understand the nature and effect of the documents you want to make want to plan for the future, in the event you need assistance or someone to act on your behalf, click here.
MARY NEEDS HELP TODAY
Mary has dementia and it has progressed to a point where she needs help with daily living activities.
Mary can no longer do the banking or make health care decisions on her own. Fortunately John, her spouse, is available to help. He wants to ensure Mary is treated with dignity and respect.
Mary is on the NEED HELP TODAY path. Mary’s mental capability to understand the nature and effect of making a legal planning document is in question.
- Being a spouse does not give John automatic authority to manage Mary’s affairs. How can Mary authorize John to help her?
- How can Mary authorize others to help, if something happens to John?
REPRESENTATION AGREEMENT SECTION 7
A Representation Agreement Section 7 (RA7) looks at capability differently than other legal documents. Mary may make an RA7 even if she is no longer considered capable of making an Enduring Power of Attorney, a Representation Agreement Section 9 or a Will.
Even if Mary’s doctor says she is mentally incapable, she may make an RA7. John can help Mary make an RA7 – this way she will have someone authorized to help her make health care decisions if the doctor finds her incapable of giving or refusing informed consent.
An (RA7) can give legal authority to one or more persons to assist with decisions affecting one or more life areas (health care, personal care, routine finances and legal affairs).
With an RA7, Mary can get help from those who know and care about her – without losing her rights through adult guardianship (called Committeeship in BC) or be subjected to the limits of the default scheme for health care (the Temporary Substitute Decision Maker next-of-kin list).
Scroll down the page for more information on the Representation Agreement Section 7.
For links to the RA7 forms on the NEED HELP TODAY PATH click RA7 forms for different situations.
John is on a different planning path than Mary. He is considered mentally capable. He is able to manage his own affairs and make decisions independently. If you are like John, find information and legal forms for your situation at Planning on the Future Path.
Who may make an RA7?
- The RA7 was created through a community-government partnership to be a legal alternative to adult guardianship (called Committeeship in BC) so ALL adults may have a way to authorize personal supporters to assist them when needed. Under guardianship adults lose their rights—sometimes called civil death. Legally they become a non-person. An RA7 preserves their rights and personhood.
- The capability requirements for making an RA7 are different than the traditional standard ‘understand the nature and effect’ that is required for making other legal documents such as a Power of Attorney or a Will.
- The Representation Agreement Act (RA Act) says that an adult may make an RA7 even if they cannot manage their own affairs or make decisions independently.
- An adult may make an RA7 even if a doctor says the adult is mentally incompetent or the adult is in residential care. In fact these situations signal the importance of having a legal representative who can assist others to know and honour the adult’s wishes and values.
How is Mary capable of making an RA7?
- The RA Act recognizes that capability involves many factors because each person and situation are different. There is no specific requirement or criteria for making an RA7. The law gives examples (not criteria) of how an adult is capable of making an RA7.
One factor/example is whether Mary communicates choices and preferences and feelings of approval or disapproval of others. The law recognizes all forms of communication, including using behaviour. Mary’s speech may be limited and she may get names mixed up. Those who know and care about her watch her behaviour to understand and follow up on her needs and wants. This is one reason it is important to be cautious about the use of medications to ‘manage’ behaviour as it may cover up communication. Health care providers need to get consent when offering medications for treatment.
Another factor/example of capability for an RA7 is whether the relationship between Mary and her representative (John) is characterized by trust. Many people are likely to know about that!
You can see that the key is having a representative who cares and respects Mary’s wishes. They look to and listen to her communication—however that is expressed. These factors are about helping others to see and interact with Mary as a person—this keeps her safe and maintains her self-determination.
- You may find it helpful to read the RA7 Fact Sheet. If you have questions or are unsure if the RA7 applies to the person you are supporting, please book an appointment to discuss this with Nidus staff click BOOK NOW.
What does the RA7 cover?
- The RA7 covers decisions regarding minor and major health care; personal care including living arrangements and lifestyle preferences; legal affairs and routine finances.
- If the Agreement includes routine finances, an extra safeguard is required. This can be met by naming someone in the Agreement as a monitor. It is also possible to satisfy the requirement by naming at least two representatives to act jointly for finances – this requires a Custom RA7 form.
- Read more about the RA7 authorities to cover life areas.
Who can be appointed in an RA7?
A Representation Agreement has three roles to assign. The legal form needs specific wording according to the type of role and the number of roles included. Nidus provides a Basic RA7 All form that names 1 representative, 1 alternate and a monitor. You can order a Custom RA7 All if you want to name more people or more roles.
Representative: the person with legal authority to assist the adult or to act on their behalf. There can be more than one representative.
Alternate representative: a back-up in case the representative is not able to act. There can be more than one representative. This role is optional.
Monitor: a person who acts as an extra safeguard and support for the adult and the Agreement. Only one monitor can be named. This role is optional – however it is commonly used an an Agreement that includes authority for routine finances as it satisfies the extra safeguard requirement, as mentioned above.
What RA7 forms does Nidus provide?
- Nidus has Basic RA7 forms for free download. Scroll down to the heading ‘RA7 Forms for Different Situations’ to find links.
- Nidus can also provide Custom RA7 forms for specific situations. Please book an appointment to discuss – click BOOK NOW.
Is notarization or a legal professional required?
- No. A legal professional is not required or necessary and their involvement sometimes creates problems. They may suggest adult guardianship (also called Committeeship) if they do not know about the RA7 as a legal alternative in BC.
- The Representation Agreement form does not have to be notarized. Two witnesses are required and they will complete Certificates. Most people use neighbours or friends as witnesses.
- Legal professionals must take instruction directly from their client – for example, from Mary. But they may not understand Mary’s communication. John cannot instruct a lawyer or notary public to make a Representation Agreement for Mary. Nidus uses a mutual-help approach – John can help Mary make the RA7.
Learn more about planning options
Ask questions at our free presentations or book an appointment.
Watch our powerpoint presentation for an Introduction to Personal Planning in BC (Save it to your computer and then open it. Like with PDF files, web browsers may have incompatible viewers.)
RA7 FORMS FOR DIFFERENT SITUATIONS
What type of RA7 will Mary make if she needs help with ALL life areas?
If Mary has nothing in place, her RA7 will cover all life areas: health care, personal care, legal affairs and routine finances. Click the following button for the Basic RA7 All form.
What if Mary has an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) that she made before?
Mary made an EPA when she was considered capable and the appointed people are still available to act for her. This means she has her financial and legal affairs covered. Since her capability is now in question she will make an RA7 only for health and personal care powers. Click the following button for the Basic RA7 H+P form.
What if Mary has an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) but it only appoints John?
If Mary has an EPA in place but it only appoints one person (in this case John), she may need to make an RA7 for financial and legal affairs in case something happens to John.
Can Mary use the RA7 All form? Click the RA7 All button above.
Perhaps Mary needs a Custom RA7 form to name others for routine financial and legal affairs in case something happens to John and she needs an RA7 H+P that names John and others. If you might need a Custom RA7, make an appointment – click button below.
SAFEKEEPING & REGISTERING YOUR DOCUMENTS
Where should the original be kept?
- Be sure the ORIGINAL document is safe and accessible. It is proof of authority – never give the original away or lose it.
- There are different ideas about where to keep the original. Traditionally, people kept legal papers in a safety deposit box. However, this is not very accessible for the RA7 as Mary may need help with various matters at any time.
- Many people keep the original of their Agreement at home. When you register information with the Personal Planning Registry, you can state where in your home the original is located. You can also update its location in the Registry if you move it.
Who gets copies of the document(s)?
- Give copies of the completed document(s) to each person appointed.
- For an RA7 that includes health care, give a copy to the doctor and any specialists or other care providers involved, including home support agency or care facility.
- For an RA7 that includes finances, take the original to the financial institution so they can make their own copy for their files.
- Be prepared to make and distribute additional copies as needed.
Where do I register the document(s)?
- Nidus operates the Personal Planning Registry.
- Registration is voluntary. Registering the document helps with communication among those appointed and third parties.
- AFTER completing the legal document, you can upload a copy of it in the Personal Planning Registry along with information about the document itself, such as where the original is kept.
>> Representation Agreement Section 7 Fact Sheet
>> Representation Agreement Resources
>> Health Care Consent Fact Sheet
>> Health Care Consent Resources
>>Let’s Plan Handout
>> The Representation Agreement Act
What if I want some personal help?
- Nidus provides information and resources through our website for self-help. If you would like to speak with Nidus staff, we also provide personal help by in-person or phone appointment.
Is a Representation Agreement required?
- No. A Representation Agreement is a legal document that a person makes voluntarily.
- A Representation Agreement is not a tool to make the system provide resources or services. It is a way that a representative can help the adult advocate for services and respond to services that are offered. For example, a Representation Agreement cannot make a doctor provide a specific treatment, however, if a treatment is offered, a representative can help the adult give or refuse consent for that treatment and ask about alternatives.
My mother doesn’t understand. How can she make a Representation Agreement?
- Different laws have different capability requirements. Your mother may not meet the capability requirements to make other legal documents such as a Power of Attorney or a Will. However, the Representation Agreement Section 7 provides a new way of looking at capability that is intended to make Representation Agreements accessible to ALL adults – even if they cannot manage their own affairs or make decisions on their own.
- Even if a doctor says your mother is mentally incompetent, this does not prevent her from making an RA7.
- Read more about this in the RA7 Fact Sheet or book a personal appointment to discuss with experienced Nidus staff – BOOK NOW.
Do we need a lawyer or notary public to make a Representation Agreement?
- No. You do not need a legal professional to make a Representation Agreement. A lawyer or notary public must take instruction from the adult, not from a family member or friend. Nidus uses a self-help approach for making a Representation Agreement – someone can help the adult make their Agreement.
How do I apply for a Representation Agreement?
- There is no application process – any adult may make a Representation Agreement. You can help someone to make their Agreement, but the document belongs to the adult and they don’t need ‘permission’ to make one.
- One of the tools that Nidus suggests you can use to get started, is the Planning Circle Exercise. It is a tool for identifying personal supporters – the key aspect of a Representation Agreement.
What if there is a change affecting my documents?
- If you or someone you appointed has a change of address, phone number or legal name, you do not have to make a new document. You can update this information with the Personal Planning Registry. However, you should not alter your original. Read Nidus tips on how to update your record.
- If you want to change the people you appointed or the authorities you included in your documents, you need to cancel (revoke) your old document and make a new one. Nidus has information and forms about Revoking an RA. Making a new RA does not automatically cancel a previous one.
What if someone appointed needs to resign?