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Why is a Lasting Power Of Attorney so important?

Nicola Finbow, Head of Private Client at Clough & Willis Solicitors, discusses why care home residents should consider setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney…

The daily life of a care home employee can be extremely busy, with lots of moving parts to consider to ensure the correct care is administered to all of the residents - but things can get a lot busier if a patient has an accident or falls ill and it isn’t clear who to speak to about their needs.

For this reason, it’s important that care home residents and their loved ones consider setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney to ensure everyone knows who is able to make healthcare and financial decisions on behalf of the resident if a time comes when they are unable to do so themselves.

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?  Lasting Power of Attorney - a care home nurse and resident

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows an individual to appoint someone they trust to take control of, or assist with, their financial or personal welfare decisions if they lose the capability to make decisions for themselves.

With an ageing population, these types of agreements are becoming more and more essential to ensure that the healthcare wishes of an individual and their loved ones are adhered to.

However, research by the Office of the Public Guardian from 2014 revealed that almost half (45%) of respondents had never heard of the term ‘Lasting Power of Attorney’ and, once they were told about the document, almost two thirds (61%) said they weren’t interested.

There are several reasons for the lack of interest – such as, many doubting they would lose the mental capacity to make decisions of this nature, while others didn’t want to give someone else the power to make decisions for them.  However for care home residents, this is more important than for most.

Statistics from Alzheimer’s Society show that 70% of people in care homes have either dementia or severe memory problems and that 225,000 people will develop dementia this year, meaning that it’s important to get all of the paperwork agreed before it’s too late.

If an individual no longer has the mental capacity to create a valid Lasting Power of Attorney, it becomes much more difficult for someone to authorise important financial and welfare decisions – an application to the Court of Protection would be required.  These applications are much more lengthy, complicated and expensive.

This can cause problems for residents and care providers, as it can mean that relatives are unable to access finances to pay for specialist care while the application is pending and the care home can be left in a difficult position as their bills start to become overdue.

For the sake of protecting the best interests of care providers, residents and their loved ones, it’s recommended that all care home owners create a policy to promote setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney for all new and existing residents.

Working with a solicitor can take a lot of the stress out of the process of getting the appointment in place. The expert solicitors at Clough & Willis have been providing this vital service for many years.

Find out more about our Lasting Power of Attorney and Deputyship service here.

 

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