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In a recent blog, we reported how the Office of Public Guardian (OPG) had seen an increase of reports relating to elder abuse. Whilst this is unfortunately not a new trend, the report has thrown some light on the responsibility of carers and those who may be more vulnerable to physical, mental or financial abuse.
The OPG made 721 applications to the Court of Protection in 2018/19 - a startling rise on the year before. These were cases aimed at removing inappropriate attorneys, who were abusing their position of power, usually for financial gain.
It understandably sparked a huge amount of interest, so much so, that the OPG published a blog on the .gov website, explaining how they carry out investigations and what they typically involve.
The blog explains that they work closely within a legal framework, and that primarily they look at how the Mental Capacity Act 2005 may have been compromised. The Mental Capacity Act exists to assume how well an individual is able to make a decision for themselves. If they can’t, they must either be assisted, or, have someone fully act on their behalf.
However, this is also balanced with the needs of the individual - “mental capacity” in itself is very subjective and can hugely vary from one person to the next. That’s any the OPG try to carry out a safeguarding role, preventing a risk from exposure to abuse, rather than taking specific measures to block carers, or attorneys, unnecessarily.
Whilst it is never encouraging to hear that there has been an increase in elder abuse claims, it is encouraging to know that the increase is due to more people acting as attorneys in the first place. A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is extremely important to think about whilst you are still of sound mind and good mental capacity, as it is a document that lays out any wishes you have in relation to any care, medical treatment or financial wishes you may have. It also nominates an individual to act upon those wishes for you, in the event you become unable to do so yourself.
Anyone wishing to read the full blog post by the OPG can do so here .
For more information about drafting an LPA, or you would some legal advice about nominating an attorney to act for you, contact Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.