Q: My widowed father had grown very frail and forgetful and Social Services organised the paperwork for him to go into a care home. I have now been asked if I want to be his ‘Relevant Person’s Representative’. I have put off answering because I don’t know what that means. Can you tell me?
A: When someone has been deprived of their liberty, whether for their own good or not, safeguards exist that give them and their family the opportunity to challenge that deprivation. For the person deprived of their liberty, that right to challenge is absolute – no matter what family and others think is best for them.
If after assessments Social Services have decided your father needs to be in a care home with some element of compulsion – maybe simply being unable to unlock the front door and leave by himself - they must issue a Deprivation of Liberty Authorisation or DoLS and someone, usually a family member, is asked to be their Relevant Person’s Representative or RPR. The RPR’s function is to maintain contact with the detained person and to represent and support them in all matters relating to the deprivation of their liberty, including challenging it.
You should be given full written details regarding being your father’s RPR. If you accept the role and your father is unhappy about being in the home and wishes to return to his own home you can request a review on his behalf or go to Court. Free, non-repayable Legal Aid would be available to him for the latter, regardless of his finances. You can get information and help regarding this from his Social Worker, an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) or a solicitor. If however your Dad wants to go home and you disagree with that, it would be very difficult to take on this role.