Luton Borough Council was prosecuted by the HSE late last year following an incident at a high school in which an assistant headteacher was attacked by a pupil and left with life-changing injuries.
I have been qualified as a Court of Protection Solicitor for almost ten months now and I absolutely love my job. It allows me to help the most vulnerable members of our society and I see the results first-hand on a daily basis. I thought I would share an example of the work that we do and give an insight into why this role has given me the job satisfaction that I am so lucky to have.
We have recently been appointed for Mr F, a lovely elderly gentleman with advanced Dementia. He was moved into a care home last year following a fall at home and it being deemed unsafe for him to remain in his home. He hadn’t put a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) or Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) in place whilst he had mental capacity. This left no one with the legal authority to access and manage his finances and due to his poor mental and physical health, Mr F was unable to do this himself.
After he had been moved into the care home, we received a referral from his social worker who explained that Mr F didn’t have anyone appropriate in his life to act as his deputy. For those of you unfamiliar with the term “deputy”, it is similar to an LPA/EPA but deputies are appointed by the court once someone has already lost capacity and therefore cannot make an LPA.
We proceeded to make an application to the Court of Protection for two of the three professional deputies in the team to be appointed. On this occasion, it was professional deputies being appointed, but our work also involves making applications on behalf of clients who would like to be appointed as a deputy for a loved one but find the process too onerous or complex to do themselves.
The next stage in the process is we receive a court order appointing the deputies, which gives us the legal authority to access Mr F’s finances. I then had the pleasure of going to the care home to meet him and inform him of the deputyship appointment. Unfortunately, when speaking with him he repeatedly drew attention to the fact that he felt alone in the care home and that his room was bare because he didn’t have any possessions. Whilst speaking with the care home manager it transpired that Mr F had been admitted to the care home with only the clothes on his back and regrettably all his possessions in his rented home had been discarded before our appointment.
When the appointment was made, we liaised with his banks and accessed his money. One of the very first things that we did was order him a full new wardrobe of clothes. I spoke with the care manager once they had been received and she made it clear how happy Mr F was for his package to arrive. Before this delivery, Mr F had been wearing clothes donated by the staff as he didn’t have any of his own. Hearing just how pleased Mr F was with being sent the new clothes gives me the “buzz” that we all wish and strive for in our chosen careers.
I also learned from care staff that Mr F loves watching television and reading, so I quickly ordered a television for him to have in his room, which he will enjoy when he wants some peace and quiet in the care home away from the communal areas. I am also ordering him a subscription to a magazine based around the armed forces, a subject close to his heart.
Once restrictions have been lifted, I will meet with Mr F again and determine what else we can assist with in relation to his property and finances to make his time in the care home as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. This might be more things for his room at the care home or a befriending service to give him that companionship that he craves.
You may think, “well it’s only money and material things”, but this can make such a huge difference to someone like Mr F who feels so alone, and before we were appointed had nothing and no way, due to physical and mental ill health, to manage his financial affairs for himself. I hope at the moment when his deliveries arrive, that he feels that someone is thinking about him (which by the way, they are!).
Unfortunately, Mr F has cancer and has a shortened life expectancy. This isn’t something that we can change but we can use his finances to give him the best quality of life and ensure that he has everything that he needs and enjoys whilst he is well enough to enjoy it. Without a deputy, Mr F would still be too unwell to go to the bank, access his own money and administer his own financial affairs.
This is just one example of more than 150 clients that we support. All of whom come from a variety of backgrounds, walks of life and are based all around the country. Alongside the three professional deputies who I have already mentioned, I am a solicitor and we have a team of four caseworkers assisting the professional deputies to give our clients the best service that we can.
If you are interested in learning more about the Court of Protection, maybe you are a lay deputy who needs some guidance on making an application to court or someone interested in how the law protects vulnerable members of society, I will be publishing a series of articles debunking the legal jargon and discussing all things Court of Protection. The first article will be published on 19 June 2020, with an article being published every week after that.
- Support and advice for family members or friends applying to be appointed as financial deputy and with their ongoing responsibilities;
- Advice and representation regarding welfare deputyship applications;
- Applications to the Court of Protection on behalf of deputies and attorneys in respect of all property and financial matters including gifts, trusts, statutory wills and the extension of existing deputy powers;
- Professional deputyship cost reports in other proceedings;
- Health and welfare proceedings in the Court of Protection including challenging deprivation of liberty orders; and
- Support and advice for family members setting up Wills and other structures to safeguard the assets of any disabled individual.
If you would like any advice regarding a loved one who has lost capacity, please do not hesitate to contact me.
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