Over the following weeks we will be sharing a series of question and answer articles about our day-to-day lives in a Court of Protection team. This week, I interviewed Anne Pearson who is a Senior Manager in the Court of Protection team.
Anne has specialised in Court of Protection matters for over 15 years. Originally, Anne was a nurse before moving into the legal profession. Anne first worked on fast track personal injury matters before progressing to assist with catastrophic injury claims, including the reported catastrophic case of Biesheuvel v Burrell (1998) which was, at the time, the largest compensation award in the UK for a spinal injury matter.
My original background is in nursing in Leicester. After I took maternity leave I wanted to look for an alternative career. I relocated to Buckinghamshire in 1996 and found a position in a firm in Slough dealing with personal injury claims. As I become more experienced in this area of law I took on more catastrophic claims for spinal and head injury claims. This work introduced me to Court of Protection work.
I began work in the Court of Protection area prior to the Mental Capacity Act where Deputies were still called Receivers. I have now been dealing solely with Court of Protection work for 15 years. The implementation of the Mental Capacity Act saw much more responsibility passed from the Court to the Deputy. This proved to be much more beneficial to the clients as it meant they could be much more involved in the decision making. My background in nursing gave me a better understanding of the injuries and associated issues in the personal injury cases.
My knowledge of personal injury helped with understanding how a claim is progressed and how the compensation award for catastrophic cases was calculated. So both nursing and working in personal injury have really helped my work in Court of Protection.
It is really important for a Court of Protection practitioner to have empathy, understanding and be able to remain calm in stressful situations. I always remember that an accident causing catastrophic injury or medical negligence has devastating consequences to our clients and their families. I always bear that in mind when dealing with the families, particularly if they are being demanding.
Our aim within the Court of Protection team and in line with the Court of Protection requirements is to empower our clients as much as possible. That is easier to achieve with some clients more than others, depending on the severity of their needs. Some situations where our clients require increased assistance is when we are purchasing and adapting a property and applying for their benefits. When purchasing a new property for a client I always ensure I apply for disabled funding grants (DFG).
I have significant experience applying for DFGs and I have been successful on a number of occasions. I also have significant experience with applying for benefits and transitioning my clients from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payments (PIP).
To apply for PIP there is a very complex questionnaire to be completed so as to achieve the maximum benefit to the client.However, I gain most satisfaction from seeing that my client is happy and seeing them engage with me by smiling or looking pleased to see me. That makes all the hard work behind the scenes worthwhile because I know that I have done my best to provide my client with the best quality of life.
Emma is a paralegal in the Court of Protection team, assisting Ruth and the team with Deputyship and Personal Injury Trust work. Emma deals with clients on a day-to-day basis as well as liaising with other professionals in order to make the clients’ lives as easy as possible wherever she can.
I find it so rewarding when helping our vulnerable clients and their families to find a solution to a problem that has occurred.
I may be ticking off that to-do-list when I get a phone call saying a taxi has not arrived where it should be for a client and they are going to miss a hospital appointment, or a call that a family’s boiler has broken down and they have no heating. In this instance I have to act quickly to find a solution to the problem, as although no one likes to be without their heating or hot water, for our vulnerable children and adults it is crucial that their heating is working.It may then be the end of the day and before I leave the office I receive an urgent invoice for a piece of equipment that will greatly enhance a young child’s life. I always like to make sure these payments are actioned straightaway as this one piece of equipment can make all the difference to the child.
I feel that I am in a very privileged position to be able to help some very vulnerable children and adults. Life has changed so unexpectedly for our families and I have total admiration for what they do every single day. If I can help our clients and families by taking a little bit of pressure from them and helping sort a problem then I can go home knowing I have made a difference.
The British love their dogs. My own dog is a rescued 17 year old Collie cross that I love dearly. He’s been a family member since my children were small.
So, I was surprised to see the recent case of Mrs P v Rochdale Borough Council and Anor (2016) EWCOP B1.
This case involved a professional deputy appointed to manage the money of Mrs P, an elderly stroke victim. The client had lost capacity and was totally devoted to her dog Bobby. Requests had been made to bring Bobby to see her and also provide money for new clothes and special food. However such requests went unanswered.
My own thoughts were that it’s bad enough to ignore requests for clothes and food but the dog!
Anyone who owns a pet, or even if they don’t own one must be aware of that special bond. If anything, a pet allows people who have lost capacity to carry on their lives with some normality.
The court heard that Bobby was ‘the only living being with whom she shares any love and devotion’ and that Mrs P’s face ‘lights up’ when she sees other dogs.
The upshot of the case was that the deputy was found guilty of ignoring Mrs P’s needs. He was not acting in her best interests. The deputy was removed and a new one appointed.
The moral of this story for all deputies out there – always act in best interests and above all act with compassion.
The case can be viewed at www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/21care-case-judge-furious-pensioner-left-unable-to-see-beloved-pet/.