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Bloomsburry Family law

Legal services

Due care and attention

The coalition Welsh assembly government stated in its “One Wales” programme that during its term it would bring forward legislation to create a more level playing field in relation to charges for domiciliary care services. It has fulfilled that commitment in passing the Social Care Charges (Wales) Measure 2010, which received Royal Assent on 17 March 2010. In Wales, this measure will replace the Westminster-enacted Health and Social Services and Social Security Adjudications Act 1983, which gave local authorities the power to recover such charges they considered reasonable from recipients of non-residential social care services.

In brief: The Public Guardian Board scrutinises, reviews and engages

The Public Guardian Board (the Board) has published its first annual report – Scrutiny, review, engagement. Set up under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (the MCA) and fully operational on 1 October 2007, its function is to scrutinise and review the work of the Public Guardian – in particular the way in which he discharges his functions. This assists in improving the service.

Coldrick's comments

Marketing is, so we are told, ‘a numbers game’: so are scams. I wonder just how big the numbers have to be sometimes before someone bites? Amidst the usual batch of e-mails I receive at the office for penis, breast and wallet enlargement, I recently received an e-mail which I suspect many other professional readers will also have had. The e-mail is stated here in italics. It begins with the word Hello. This is poor letter-writing style, being over familiar whilst still managing to be impersonal. Nevertheless, its author would still gain one additional SATs grade or attain a distinction in their media studies degree by having put the individual letters in the correct order. Please, take your time to understand the content of this email. Personally, I always find reading and understanding come together quite neatly and without undue effort. If there is a delay, however, then I agree that a pause can be useful. Otherwise, it’s time to retire or to get a life outside professional discussion forums. I wish to introduce you to a project that would be of immense benefit to both of us. A ‘project’ and ‘immense benefit’ – perhaps these are clues and it’s a government-type e-mail? Perhaps they want to give me lots of money to make a mess of something really important without obtaining any discernible advantage – for example by moving the location of the Office of the Public Guardian without first opening all that pesky post that has built up on the mat (again… sigh). Being an executor of wills, it is possible that we may be tempted to make a fortune out of our client’s situations, when we cannot help it, or left with no better option. This is either obscurantist, existentialist or simply bad English. Probate is not as good an earner as it once was I am sure, but I am puzzled by the reference to being unable to help myself or having ‘no better option’. Is this a reference to me being unable to restrain myself from topping some presently un-dead clients on account of the crisis in professional services arising from the credit crunch? The e-mail rambles on telling a sob story about a person who willed a fortune to his next of kin, but they all died with him in a road traffic accident. The writer then pauses – perhaps to weep silently – noting: I am now faced with indecision about who to pass the fortune to. According to English law, the fortune is supposed to be given to the government. This is someone (daresay from abroad) with a good grasp of Gordon Brown’s unpopularity, but who cannot have passed their STEP exams recently: either that or perhaps, like me, they joined when there wasn’t one. Similarly, they cannot have ever experienced a real live intestate-succession when several dozen long-lost relatives pop up from all over the world wanting a slice of the inaction. Assuming this is not an e-mail from ‘President for Life’ Mugabe, why does this person have any say at all in the matter of where the estate is to go? You do not need first-class honours in Sudoku to spot there are a few logic traps and dodgy elements here. I seek your assistance in presenting you as next of kin to the deceased being that you share his last name. This clear inducement to commit fraud wrongly assumes: That ‘Coldrick’ did not originate in a small Gloucestershire village where we were horribly inbred for a thousand years to the extent that we all have fat heads, amazingly large hooters, tiny little ears and a more than passing resemblance to The Clangers. We don’t need a DNA test or genealogists to work out who the impostors are. Also, we tend to spot if one of us has died: that is because there are fewer people signed in at the family’s next Wicker-Man celebrations. That I am not their next of kin anyway. That all lawyers are crooks.  But the killer line on credibility is the reference after the sender’s name to him acting as attorney. We have not had any such applications granted for so long now that the matter can be immediately referred to serious-crime people with full certainty of its criminal status. PS: If you fell for this scam please let me know what happened so that I can check out: How well it works for the sender; and, At which prison to write to you when carrying out my new Lawyers Stupidity Index Survey. One disturbing theme which ECA has consistently flagged up over the years is the apparent inability of the NHS to properly provide food and water to elderly patients. I have received many complaints from relatives over the years that older people are dying unnecessarily (or at least prematurely) or suffering confusion through dehydration because they are not being assisted to take regular drinks. How often do we arrive at the client’s bedside (or at the care home) to find a full cold cup of tea or a full warm glass of water just out of arm’s reach? An Age Concern study of 110 NHS Trusts in England and Wales recently found that 43 per cent do not provide ‘protected mealtimes’ – where non-urgent work halts to ensure patients are enabled to eat their food. Apart from the issue of drinks, the receipt of food is another obvious way of helping someone back to health: not eating equals malnutrition – anyone knows that. When you next visit your local hospital it is worth checking to see whether or not a ‘red-tray’ system is being used – where patients with special eating and drink needs can be more easily targeted for assistance. It is wrong for people to be deprived of food due to being away from their beds at mealtimes for routine treatments and procedures. Surely this is all part of basic nursing? It seems to have been lost along with old-fashioned matrons and decent ward-cleaning. I am not calling for the return of James Robertson Justice and Hattie Jacques to the wards, and I quite accept that nurses generally do an excellent job (often for rubbish pay), but couldn’t some of the staff who seem to be literally hanging around just about every ward I have visited recently not be appointed as food monitors? It’s not rocket science, red trays or no red trays. I am sure it would make a big difference. In the meantime: don’t get caught out and don’t get old.    David Coldrick is a member of the editorial board and a partner at Wrigleys Solicitors LLP. He can be contacted at david.coldrick@wrigleys.co.uk

The economy and fear of recession: The challenges being faced by the private-client sector

At present, the problems facing law firms are rather like buses... they all come at the same time. Not only have private-client law firms had to consider the issues surrounding the de-regulation of the sector and its implications, but, over recent times, they have had to compete with claims handlers and financial institutions in their traditional areas of work – for example personal injury claims and will-making among others. They now face a further threat in the form of the credit crunch, which could be the death nail for many high-street firms.

Advising your client on care-homes contracts

Moving into a care home – even if it is a planned, not a crisis, move – is a very important decision for an older person and their family. It can have significant consequences for the older person’s quality of life, perhaps even their longevity. For many older people and their families there will be significant financial consequences if they either have to fund the care-home placement or contribute to the local authority payment by means of a ‘top-up’.

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