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Martin Searle Solicitors

Professional Deputy Standards Guidance

In July 2015, the Office of the Public Guardian issued new guidance through which the OPG will seek to ensure that all professional and local authority Deputies are operating to the equally high best practice standards. Many Professional Deputies will already be meeting or exceeding these standards for their clients. However, the assessment and supervision process and the detailed documentation requirements may prompt the Professional Deputy to consider involving community care law specialists to demonstrate their best practice commitment to exceeding the standards.

The five Professional Deputy Standards

  1. Standard one: secure the client’s finances and assets
  2. Standard two: gain insight into the client to make decisions in their best interests
  3. Standard three: maintain effective internal office processes and organisation
  4. Standard four: have the skills and knowledge to carry out the duties of deputy
  5. Standard five: health and welfare standards

How we can assist the Professional Deputy in satisfying the Standards

As one of a very small handful of community care law specialist firms who offer in-house services and training to Private Client teams, we can complement the work of Professional Deputies and Attorneys. Our services include undertaking annual or other file audits and advising on complex Care Act 2014 and NHS CHC casework issues. We offer a flexible approach which meets your individual requirements, so that you can demonstrate to the OPG how well you are meeting your clients’ needs. Our services include:

Initial audit at the point when you are first appointed as Deputy

This will focus on Standards 1(a)(4) and 1(a)(6) and will cover  a review of the current and historical Health or Social Services funding that may be available to your client. It will also explore any issues in relation to any property disregards that Social Services should be making through their financial assessment process, and where relevant will look at the thorny issue of joint beneficial ownership of property in the Social Services financial assessment process of your client’s ability to pay for their care. While not within the Standards, we would also make recommendations about benefits and financial support to your client’s relevant family-member carers, where they are part of a care package at home for example.

Full audit on settlement of your client’s Personal Injury or Clinical Negligence case

This covers the same points as above, although is likely to be more detailed and will consider the impact (if any) of the settlement on any means tested benefits or Social Services funded support.

Annual review for all cases

In some cases this will be a relatively short piece of work because you will have already secured all potential sources of NHS and Social Services funding, benefits and etc. for your clients. It may be necessary to look at the ongoing NHS CHC award and / or Local Authority commissioned package, particularly if the LA or Clinical Commissioning Group is seeking economies.

Annual in-house training for your team

For example on the “Paying for Care rules” and “Challenging NHS Funding decisions” which will satisfy Standard 1(b)(2).

The community care law team can also assist, advise or train your teams in relation to the Standard about Safeguarding (Standard 3c); and any legal issues relevant to the Care Planning or Care arrangements Standards (1)(g) & (h) that may fall outside the remit or knowledge of your client’s care manager.

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

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