A person’s Nearest Relative (NR) has a number of rights regarding the care and treatment of the person. The NR is not the same as the person’s next of kin (although they may be the same person). The NR is the individual dictated by the Mental Health Act, there is a list which gives the order of whom the NR will be based on age and relation to the person.
Nearest relative rights:
- To be given information relating to the care and treatment of the person (except where this is to remain confidential)
- To have the person assessed under the Mental Health Act
- To apply to the hospital managers to have the person admitted
- To be consulted when the person is being assessed under the Mental Health Act
- To have the person discharged from a section 2, 3, community treatment order or guardianship
- To have the NR status transferred to another individual
- To arrange for an Independent Mental Health Advocate for the person
The area of confidentiality is one which can cause concern for carers, people who use services and staff. The basic principle of confidentiality is that information given by a service user cannot be disclosed without their consent. However, a service user does not have the right to prevent a professional from engaging with carers, receiving information from them, listening to their views or from giving a carer information, advice and support.
One of the best ways to resolve any concerns about confidentiality is to have arrangements made in writing, such as in an Advance Statement. Here, people using services can detail what type of information can be shared, and with whom.
Carers should be able to access general information, for example about a diagnosis that has been given to the person they care for or any medications prescribed, and they should also be offered emotional and practical support. They should be given information about any carer support groups, the contact details of professional carers working with their friend/relative and any information which directly involves them, such as hospital discharge arrangements.