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Carers Week 2023 - what can solicitors assist carers with?

View profile for Jessica Hobro
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Healthwatch releases report of findings following two year analysis of home care services in England

This year, Carers Week, is taking place from 5th to 11th June. Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, to highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the United Kingdom.

A carer is anyone who looks after another person (sometimes a family member or friend), with a disability, mental or physical illness or who needs extra help as they grow older.

Our specialist Court of Protection and community care solicitors can assist carers in a number of ways.

Best interest decisions

Where a person lacks mental capacity to make a decision, such as where they live or the care they receive, this decision may need to be made by others. This decision should be made in the person’s best interests. There are a number of factors to consider when making a best interests decision including the past and present wishes and feelings of the person that lacks mental capacity, that person’s values and beliefs that would have been likely to influence their decision if they still had capacity and any other factors that they would have considered if they were able to do so.

Anyone engaging in caring for a person should be consulted when a best interests decision is being made about the person they are caring for. When a person lacks mental capacity to make a decision, a best interests meeting should be held between the relevant professionals and any family members or friends who have an interest in that persons welfare. If an agreement is not reached at this meeting as to what is in that person’s best interests, court proceedings may be issued in the Court of Protection.

Court proceedings

Sometimes professionals and family members/ friends have differing views as to what is in a persons best interests. If court proceedings are issued following a best interests meeting, anyone with an interest in that persons welfare should be notified of the proceedings and given the opportunity to be joined as a party to proceedings. You may receive a COP5, COP15 and/ or COPDLE form.

If you are notified of court proceedings in respect of decisions to be made about a persons health and welfare and wish to be joined as a party to proceedings, we can assess your eligibility for legal aid public funding for representation in the proceedings and explain what it means to be joined as a party. Please note that legal aid funding is subject to eligibility.

OPG investigations

In some cases, a carer may be appointed as an attorney under a lasting power of attorney (LPA), or as a deputy where a person has lost mental capacity. Sometimes attorneys/deputies are accused of wrongdoing by family members or third parties. This may result in the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) opening an investigation into the actions of an attorney or deputy and making an application for them to be removed from their position.

You may wish to object to an application made by someone else applying for a LPA or deputyship. The existing attorney/deputy should be notified of the application and be given the opportunity to object the application. The person notified must be able to provide evidence to justify their objection.

We can provide advice where you have received documents from the OPG in respect of an investigation into a LPA or deputyship, or in respect of challenging an application made by someone else for a LPA or deputyship.

If you require assistance in respect of the above issues, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01616 966 229 and our team of specialist mental capacity and Court of Protection solicitors may be able to assist. Legal aid funding is subject to eligibility.