Newspaper Articles

Enduring Problems with Power of Attorney

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Brian Williams writing in the Observer yesterday highlighted the problems he has encountered trying to use his registered Enduring Power of Attorney on behalf of his mother. I think that a few years ago the Court of Protection did offer to help bank staff with information and/or training in use of Power of Attorney and Enduring Power of Attorney because there were so many mix-ups with bank staff not fully understanding the authority they conveyed. I recall one man writing to me once enclosing a copy of a letter he had received from his wife’s bank stating that they could not accept the registered document ‘now that your wife has developed dementia’. Had I not read it with my own eyes I would not have believed it.

What is interesting in Williams’ column is his theory that there are not enough Powers of Attorney floating around to make it worth the financial institutions investing in training for their staff. This was not a factor I had considered. I do think however that if a bank/building society advertised itself as dementia friendly it would encourage a large group of new customers to invest their money with them and surely this would be incentive enough given the vast numbers of people who will develop dementia in the future.

To read the article click on this link.

Proof of the need for my existence/the sandwich generation

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The Guardian recently published an article titled ‘Stuck in the Middle’ which addressed the issue of people raising families whilst caring for elderly relatives many of whom are also in paid employment. After 5 years of listening to carers on helplines whose relatives were showing signs of memory loss it was drummed into me the difficulties people faced when juggling all of these responsibilities, especially if elderly relatives lived a distance away. It struck me that if my parents were beginning with dementia I would probably have to give up work for at least a year to stabilise their lives with care plans and carers or residential care since I live a good 4 hour drive from them and am an only child. (This in fact is what my mother had done when her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, driving from the Wirral to Peterborough twice a month until she could move them up to live near to her and my father who are still caring for my Grandad 21 years later (my Gran died with dementia 16 years ago).My mother was not an only child but her brother could not balance the responsibility of looking after aged parents with his naval career. )

This is why I am so passionate about people planning ahead in terms of setting up Lasting Powers of Attorney, Advance Decisions and picking up the basics of the paying for care system and the rights that carers have.If we wait till a crisis hits it is going to be a lot to cope with: handling the fact that a loved one has dementia, negotiating with health professionals and trying to deal with the Court of Protection. This is where I would like to help people earlier on. The government has set up a consultation called ‘Modern Workplaces’ which will at least touch on this problem.  Good news for me and everyone who may develop or may eventually be caring for someone with memory loss.

To read the article please click here

The Neary case and Deprivation of Liberty

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Last week Mark Neary won his case against Hillingdon Council for the unlawful detention of his son Steven who is autistic. Steven was taken into a care facility temporarily but this turned into a permanent arrangement which caused him and his father (his carer) distress.

Cases involving Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DOLS) (introduced in 2009 in response to a not dissimilar case to that of the Neary’s : the Bournewood case which went to the European Court of Human Rights in 2005) are of interest to me as the picture since 2009 has been rather confused in my view. It is often the way when new laws are introduced that they take time to bed down as the professionals discover exactly how the new rules are going to work in practice.  One of the cases I recall reading some time ago involved the length of time a person had been restrained in a car taking them to a residential home. The Court decided that it was too long a car journey to justify the restraint. I would imagine it would be quite difficult for social workers to assess what constitutes a reasonable length of car journey as opposed to an unreasonably long one!

DOLS are relevant to people with dementia as they are frequently taken into care whilst expressing their firm desire to remain at home. These people were falling into a legal ‘gap’ until DOLS were established.  So now we have a set of procedures to which professionals must adhere and states that they must abide by the ‘best interests’ principle i.e. what is in the best interests of the person who lacks capacity to make a decision about their place of care? As Mark Neary asserted after the ruling  ‘I always believed that being at home was in Steven’s best interests’.  Legal professionals also took the opportunity to mention their concerns that DOLS are not being properly followed across the country. Luckily Steven Neary’s father was prepared to go all the way to prove his point but often people who are caring for someone with dementia are too worn down to ‘take on the system’.

For more information about DOLS please use this link [includes a link to the guidance in Welsh] or email me if you think someone you know has been placed in care without a careful assessment of their needs and best interests :