Award-winning Court of Protection Costs Specialists
We are conscious of the sheer volume of information and advice that is out there, and this release seeks to condense concise and useful content that you can utilise in the management of your Protected Party’s affairs.
We remain aware of the important work you undertake as a deputy and we seek to fully support and assist you to ensure that you are paid reasonably for the work you do, whilst balancing that with the needs of your client and their best interests.
This month’s edition will be in relation to managing the level of contact you have with your clients and how this contact can be carefully monitored and undertaken to ensure its recoverability is maximised.
I do hope you will find this, and future editions, to be most interesting and useful.
I am sure that we, yourselves, and even the costs officers are in agreement that the contact you have with your Protected Parties forms the basis of the effective management of their financial and property affairs, and is often the first instance whereby issues are raised, and concerns are voiced. It remains paramount to ensure that this level of contact is maintained, however, we have been increasingly seeing occasions whereby the level of contact is deemed too high, and reductions are made accordingly.
There are of course scenarios whereby the contact that is made may solely be through a third party, should the capacity of the Protected Party mean that they are completely unable to be contacted. For clarity within this E-Shot, when referring to contact with Protected Parties, this includes contact with members of their wider support group, including P’s parents.
The medium that you conduct your contact with the Protected Parties is something that can be highly tailored to suit the preferences of individuals on a person by person basis. You may find that some Protected Parties prefer contact to be in written format or others may prefer to talk over the phone.
It is important to carefully consider the way in which a Protected Party’s capacity affects their ability to absorb the information that is trying to be conveyed. When dealing with Protected Parties with brain injuries or dementia, it is important to make information as digestible as possible to ensure they are involved in key decisions insofar as possible, and their independence is maximised.
It is necessary to keep the best interests of your Protected Parties at the forefront of any decisions you make, and this in turn means there is still an obligation to manage their expectations should their preferred contact be deemed excessive. As a deputy, it is integral to ensure availability that leads to the ability to effectively manage the Protected Party’s affairs, whilst drawing a line in what could be deemed excessive.
There may be Protected Parties with whom you liaise, whose preferred mode of contact is multiple calls or emails across a day. Whilst this is often a common way in which their lack of capacity can manifest and is a perfectly natural method to seek reassurance that their finances are under control, it does not necessarily represent a financially viable approach to be adopted in the long term. It is possible to reach a cooperative agreement with Protected Parties, such as a summary of action taken being provided at regular increments, that P is happy with, and which is in a format that they are able to understand to mitigate the need for recurring calls.
The SCCO’s usual practice is to allow one home visit in each 12-month period, which is considered to be appropriate in cases which are stable. This is a highly subjective practice, and it is difficult to concisely define what constitutes a “stable matter”. It is important for you to consider whether the attendances that are carried out distinctly required the personal attendance, as with the advances we have seen in the availability and performance of video conference software, we feel there is scope to carry out more and more attendances remotely, which we have had greater success in successfully recovering. However, this needs to be appropriate for your protected party and if it is not appropriate and a face to face to attendance is required, a brief note on the attendance note, explaining why a face to face to meeting is required, will ensure the Costs Officers are advised accordingly and helps to justify the costs arising.
It is important to ensure that the support team that is in place for your Protected Party is fully utilised to ensure that the direct contact you have is minimised to a suitable level. The instruction of a case manager with whom you can liaise can greatly reduce the direct input that is required from the deputy, as they can be utilised to spend the time to go through things in more detail at their reduced cost.
For occasions whereby you feel the contact with your Protected Party is truly unavoidable, it will be in your best interests to ensure that this is carefully explained on your files. It is necessary to convey to the costs officer any specific areas of your Protected Party’s illness or diagnoses that leads to the increased level of contact. This is also applicable in justifying the need for multiple attendances, with reasons such as adaptation or building work issues or Multi-Disciplinary Team Meetings needing to be undertaken, in person.
As always, it remains in your favour as Deputy to provide as much detailed information as possible that justifies and explains the events that have arisen. This is integral to ensure any exceptional circumstances that have impacted the contact with your Protected Party are expressed.
In summary, it is important to fully utilise the mediums of contact that are available to you, as well as making the most of any support team that is in place, to ensure that the levels of contact you have with your Protected Parties is suitable. When you feel the contact cannot be reduced, ensure that all relevant reasoning and justification is readily available to the costs officers assessing your work.
I do hope you have found this month’s article to be of interest. I will be happy to hear from anyone who might want some further training in relation to issues similar to this. If this is something that might be of interest, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our details are provided below.
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