There has been little published on the use of Guardianship Orders in mental handicap (the term ‘mental handicap’ is used rather than ‘people with learning disability’ to avoid ambiguity). Its use in the mental handicap services in four health districts in the Mersey region was surveyed. The study was retrospective, covering a five year period ending August 1994. Guardianship was used on ten occasions. Health professionals have been divided over the interpretation of the definition of “mental impairment” in the Mental Health Act (MHA) 1983. They have tended to exclude many mentally handicapped adults who do not, in their opinion, exhibit “abnormally aggressive or seriously irresponsible conduct”. It is clearly shown by our study that some health professionals are willing to classify self-neglect and vulnerability as “seriously irresponsible conduct”, thererefore allowing wider usage of the order.
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