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/.
We learn to communicate from the moment we are born but as we get older, communication can become more difficult. This could be due to hearing loss or even a brain injury. Loss of communication can lead to isolation.
In the Court of Protection team we have to show that a person cannot understand decisions involving their money. We will ask if a person can:
If a person cannot do any of the above then they will not understand decisions about their money and this includes being able to communicate their wishes.
Most people think that communication relates only to being able to speak but in fact it often encompass much more such as nodding or facial expressions and other kinds of body language such as the blinking.
I was recently able to communicate with a young adult client of mine by concentrating on her facial expressions. When she didn’t agree with something her face saddened and had a beaming smile when she agreed. Her views were very clear!
Also, bear in mind that a person’s communication skills may be better at certain times of the day – maybe the afternoon rather than the morning.
Have you seen the film “The Theory of Everything”? This was about the life of Stephen Hawking, a Cambridge physicist. Stephen has Motor Neurone Disease, causing his muscles to waste which eventually affected his speech. However, his brain was not affected. Finally, a tracheotomy meant that he lost what little speech he had left. What impressed me was the way in which his nurse was able to help him communicate using a spelling board. It was a laborious process and you could see how frustrating and demoralising it was when he couldn’t communicate.
The only time we would not be able to communicate with a person would be if they had locked in syndrome or were unconscious or in a coma.
Locked in syndrome is a condition in which a patient is aware but cannot move or communicate verbally due to paralysis of muscles so that they have absolutely no control over their body.
However, an article published on the BBC website showed that a brain-computer interface could be used to read the thoughts of patients to answer basic yes or no questions. One man was able to repeatedly refuse permission for his daughter to marry!
Hopefully advances in technology will help us communicate so that we maintain this basic ability as human’s thrive through communication.
Should you ever need to consider a deputy to manage the financial affairs of a family member or friend then please contact us as we will always try to communicate in the best way suited for that person. We can help them understand the process and ensure that they are involved in as much of the decision making as possible.
The recent decision in the Pimlico case is the latest decision to highlight the importance of properly employing carers: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38931211. Alexander Wright, associate – solicitor at Boyes Turner, explains more.
Gary Smith was a plumber for Pimlico Plumbers. He was working on a self-employed basis, but when he wanted to go part time after an illness Pimlico refused. Mr Smith claimed that he was in fact a “worker”, not self-employed, and that he was “dismissed”. He claimed that as a worker he was entitled to basic workers’ rights, which are not given to self-employed contractors.
If you are a Deputy or Attorney and you are directly employing carers, it is very important to know which of your carers is actually an “employee” or “worker” and who are “self-employed”. In this case Pimlico plumbers have had significant legal fees because they didn’t get it right. If any of your carers think they are “self-employed” it is best that you check this with an employment specialist.
If a self-employed worker decides that they think they are an employee they can take the claim to the Employment Tribunal. If you are the employer then the claim will be against you personally. You would have legal fees and other financial penalties. It’s not a risk worth taking. It’s one reason why it is so important to have Employers Liability Insurance.
Speak to an employment specialist because this area of law is changing all the time. Just because a person says they are self-employed doesn’t mean that they are. Even if you have a contract saying they are self-employed, that is not enough. There are several factors that need to be considered and it’s not advisable to make this decision without legal assistance.
In the Court of Protection team we employ hundreds of people to care for our clients. We get every contract checked by our employment specialists. We know the importance of making sure that our clients are fully protected. Sometimes we recruit people who say they are self-employed but we see them as “employed”. Every contract needs to be checked carefully.