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Martin Searle Solicitors

Case Study: Professional Deputy Standards – Expert Legal Support

Summary

How the community care law team assisted and advised Professional Deputies on complex casework matters.

The situation

Sue and Jane are experienced solicitors and are approved Court of Protection (CoP) Panel Deputies with busy and varied caseloads. Both work in small private client departments in large firms without community care law departments and they sometimes feel isolated without colleagues who they can discuss difficult cases. Sue and Jane have attended half or full day training seminars organised by Martin Searle Solicitors; they found the practical case study workshop approach provided useful strategies for their more complex cases, while giving them confidence in their management of their other cases. After the seminars, they both asked Cate and Chloe whether they could provide ad hoc specialist advice to assist with complex casework while still leaving Sue and Jane in control.

What Martin Searle Solicitors did

Cate and Chloe confirmed that they could provide specialist community care law advice on an ad hoc basis which Professional Deputies could “dip in and out” for a light-touch second opinion or to request more in depth casework support. Martin Searle Solicitors would provide a standalone advice letter per query and, if required, supporting documentation.

Cate and Chloe explained that Martin Searle Solicitors would provide tailor-made assistance on a case by case basis ensuring that the cost would be accepted by the CoP within the Professional Deputy cost guidelines. Each piece of work would address the vital costs-vs-benefits analysis and the Office of Public Guardian (OPG) Professional Deputy Standards.

In the first year, Sue asked for advice on three cases. When dealing with the Estate of a married couple who were both in care before they died, Sue had identified that the care home may have charged an unlawful top up over and above the local authority funded rate and top up. Cate’s advice confirmed Sue’s suspicion and outlined the steps required for the family to recover the significant sums in dispute.

In another case, Sue was Panel Deputy for a woman who had NHS Continuing Healthcare (CHC) for three years but who lost the award just before Sue was appointed. She wanted to be confident about prospects of success before spending time and her client’s money challenging the NHS. Chloe assessed the available evidence and advised that the decision to withdraw the client’s CHC award was, on balance, fair, as the woman’s needs had become stable and predictable before CHC funding was withdrawn. Chloe also advised on possible triggers for a new CHC award. She provided guidance notes for the care home, for Sue to keep under review, and advised that the NHS should be approached in the future if the home reported a change in care needs.

In a third case, Sue’s client, an Attorney, was told by Social Services that she couldn’t transfer half the proceeds from sale of the marital home to her mother who had moved to sheltered accommodation. The reason given was that the marital home was registered in her father’s sole name and he was in a care home so should have all the sale proceeds to pay for his own care. Chloe outlined the Care Act 2014 and public law options and arguments for Sue’s client to take her case forward.

Jane discussed three problematic cases with Cate and was reassured that in two, her approach was entirely appropriate and did not require specialist input.

The third case illustrated the multiple complicating factors that can affect a middle aged client with a sudden, acquired brain injury. Cate assisted Jane with a review of her client’s NHS CHC eligibility for the nine months prior to the current funding award and retained the award on annual review. An appeal regarding the client’s DLA Mobility component was also progressed. Jane has also made a Care Act and CRAG challenge to the Social Services financial assessment for the period before her client received a settlement which made him a self-funder.

The result

The advice given by Chloe and Cate helped Sue and her clients resolve the issues in all three cases. Jane’s complex case for her client is still ongoing. Sue and Jane felt reassured that they were fully compliant with their obligations as Professional Deputies. Jane’s complex case was recently audited by the OPG Visitor using the Professional Deputy Standards and her approach was warmly complimented.

If you are a Professional Deputy or Attorney and require advice and assistance on any Community Care Law matter, we can help. Contact us to find out more on 01273 609911, or email info@ms-solicitors.co.uk to find out more.

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