Supporting those in Care as Lockdown Eases
By Adele Bebbington-Plant, Head of Wills, Trusts & Estates
During the lockdown period, we have received many enquiries from families keen to ensure that their loved one’s affairs are in order. For those in nursing homes this was particularly challenging, as no visits were permitted during lockdown.
Where possible, for clients in nursing homes we have conducted meetings and taken instructions by telephone and video call. The signing of documents has presented an additional challenge, as we have been unable to attend to witness signings, however we have done all we can to find solutions to this.
When dealing with elderly or vulnerable clients, face to face contact is often the best means of assessing mental capacity and understanding. Having a solicitor witness the relevant documents often holds more weight. As lockdown eases, we are able to engage in further interaction with our care home clients.
Recently, one of our team took Lasting Powers of Attorney instructions over the telephone from a care home resident. The gentleman in question was in his 90s, hard of hearing and telephone communication was difficult. We ensured that the gentleman was happy to have a member of care home staff assist him and that the care staff were legally able to do this. The care home staff member was then able to assist him with the technology, enabling the gentleman to accept our call, thus opening a line of communication.
Having taken instructions over the phone, we were able to prepare and send the documents to the client in readiness for a face to face meeting. We arranged with the nursing home a private room with an accessible adjacent area of the grounds. One of our solicitors then visited the nursing home and stood outside (in the rain), a short distance from an open window and in PPE, with the client and staff member in the room.
The member of care home staff then assisted our client by turning the pages of the document as our colleague guided him through the details. The client was comfortable speaking freely in the presence of the member of nursing staff, this previously having been agreed.
As a result of the efforts of all involved, this client now has a Lasting Power of Attorney signed by all relevant parties and is currently with the Office of the Public Guardian for registration. Once registered it will ensure that he receives the support he needs from his attorneys during his lifetime.
If you or a relative in care would like our help, support and advice, contact a member of our Wills, Trusts & Estates Department on 01244 356 789 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.