The law on mental health detention has a safeguard built-in with respect to the Nearest Relative. The NR has the power to request detention under the mental health act, is required to be notified if someone is detained and can apply for the person to be discharged.
But a Nearest Relative is not a ‘next of kin’ – under standard practice only certain people can be NR and you don’t get to choose.
The hierarchy is clear – spouse, then child, parent, sibling; to be unrelated by blood or marriage there are strict residence criteria (if the person to be NR is unmarried -6 months living as though married or 5 years as a live-in carer)
This is an emotional issue; difficult for the average person who doesn’t get on with their family let alone someone involved in a polyamorous relationship. Now it is true that now (because of the European Human Rights legislation) you can have someone displaced and nominate another person through the county courts – it just ain’t easy.
The long and the short of it is that although I would automatically be W’s NR (and she mine) I am nothing to B and even with the power of attorneys fully registered he is nothing to me in this respect. I would like to think that there is no reason why B would be detained under the mental health act but even so the knowledge I have no rights (not even to be notified) frightens and upsets me.
Current events have really brought it home to me how important it is to understand these laws and to make provision for the worst especially as a poly family who are not otherwise protected.
I guess its easy for me to see how a minority like us can be put in a difficult position requiring complicated legal procedures but how about those people who just don’t get on with their parents but aren’t well enough to go through a difficult court procedure?