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ELDER ABUSE

Ramsdens Solicitors are specialist lawyers who represent Abuse survivors nationwide. We understand how distressing it can be for those affected, whether that be the survivor themselves, or their families. We provide legal advice and support for those harmed whilst in care homes, state run institutions and nursing homes. The abuse suffered can be physical, sexual, financial and can also involve negligent treatment.

We provide advice on legal actions for elder abuse against individual abusers, for example mental health professionals such as counsellors, psychiatrists, psychologists and all organisations who were responsible for caring for the elder survivor.

We understand the need for the survivor and their family to instruct a solicitor who is both a specialist and someone that they can trust and feel supported by through every step of the process.

TYPES OF ABUSE

The elderly are amongst the most vulnerable in our society and are therefore easily targeted.

Nursing Homes – poor conditions within some local authority nursing homes has been widely reported. It is often the case that patients suffer from improper medical care, causing them additional injury and worsening of symptoms through lack of supervision or neglect.

Abuse at home – the elderly can often require additional care. As a result, professional carers and family members can spend more time at their homes providing assistance. It is important to look for signs of abuse, neglect or poor care.

Financial Abuse – this is one of the most common forms of elder abuse. It can commonly occur through work carried out for services provided within their homes, online or via the telephone.

Tradespeople often overcharge elderly people for services which they say are for their benefit praying on their vulnerability.

The elderly can be exploited through telephone or text with a request to provide personal information or bank account details, the fraudster using this information to access their funds. Alternatively, they may receive a telephone requesting money for causes such as charity, and pyramid schemes. These offers are usually too good to be true, offering substantial returns on investment.

Attempts to obtain cash by telephone scams are on the rise. Financial Fraud Action UK published that in 2014 58% of people had received suspect phone calls, an increase from 41% in 2013. Recent research undertaken by the Financial Ombudsman showed that of 185 phone scam cases, 80% of those which handed over cash were aged over 55.

If you have concerns that a family member could fall for scams such as this, there is a service known as the Telephone Preference Service that can assist in blocking nuisance calls.

One of the more worrying aspects of financial abuse is by those who are trusted by the elder. This can be family members, friends or carers. These people can simply steal money or belongings when they are trusted into the person’s home, they may have access to benefit or bank accounts, force the elder to sign legal documents transferring assets and forge signatures to transfer money or assets from the elders’ name. It is shocking to think that people who are trusted would behave in this manner however unfortunately this is not uncommon.

There have been cases where a person who has lasting powers of attorney, a legal document which provides authority for someone to deal with a person’s property and finances (“LPA”), abuses their position and steals from the elderly person because they can sign documents on their behalf. This abuse is more likely to occur if the appointed attorney is not a professional such as a solicitor, because they may act in their own interests.

At Ramsdens, our Court of Protection team act as experienced attorneys in ensuring that any decisions made in relation to a person’s property and finances are in their best interests. We always recommend that legal advice is sought before appointing an attorney so that those involved are fully aware of their responsibilities.

If a person does not have capacity to make decisions and has not already made an LPA, the Court of Protection can appoint a deputy to manage that person’s financial and property affairs. Similarly to the LPA, a deputy could misuse the elderly person’s money or make decisions that are not in their best interests. Concerns of abuse can be reported to the Office of the Public Guardian (“the OPG”), however they may go unnoticed for some time. A recent freedom of information request has revealed that the OPG carried out over 40% more investigations in the 2017/2018 financial year in relation to concerns of abuse by deputies and attorneys than the previous year. Abuse often occurs because the deputy is unaware of their duties in the Code of Practice for the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

A further area where elderly people are vulnerable to abuse is in relation to a person’s health and welfare. A health and welfare Lasting Power of Attorney can be enacted to allow an attorney to make decisions on a person’s behalf. This includes deciding where a person may live or medical matters such as consenting to treatment. The person appointed should be someone who will make decisions in the best interest of that person. However, in a recent judgement, Senior Judge Lush stated that the system “is based on trust and envisages minimal intervention by public authorities”. Therefore, unless an abuse is reported to the OPG, it will go unnoticed.

CONFIDENTIALITY

We understand the need for confidentiality. Any information provided is always done so in the strictest of confidence. Our team appreciate how difficult it is to discuss the abuse that you or your family member has been exposed to and will ensure that it is treated with the upmost sensitivity throughout. We aim to offer you a secure and safe environment to discuss your claim.

TIME LIMITS

It is still possible to make a claim even if the abuse occurred some years ago. It is acknowledged that it can take time for a survivor to come forward and it may also be the case that a family member does not learn of what has occurred for some time for a variety of reasons.

We will provide free advice with regard to all aspects of pursing a claim so that you and/or your family can assess whether to proceed.

HOW RAMSDENS CAN HELP

There are various types of harm which can be caused to the elderly. Physical abuse is easily recognisable in the form of physical injury however other types of abuse can take time to become apparent. This includes emotional , financial abuse or sexual abuse.

Research has shown that it is often the case that the abuser is a family member, perhaps they desire the person’s money, or perhaps there is frustration at the amount of assistance that person now requires.

It is important when dealing with the elderly that you look for any subtle changes in their personality or condition, as this may indicate that something is not as it should be in their care regime.

Other things to look out for in respect of financial abuse include significant withdrawals from bank accounts, reluctance to spend money and unpaid bills.

If you have any concerns about an elderly relative then ensure that you make regular contact with them and look out for the warning signs.

At Ramsdens our Elder Abuse team is led by Partner and Solicitor, Natalie Marrison who, with her team, provides a fully encompassing service, advising on initially reporting the abuse experienced and pursuing a civil claim. The advice also includes obtaining relevant witness and medical professional evidence to support allegations made. The team act for survivors nationwide, having a wealth of knowledge in claims involving all medical professionals, care workers and mental health professionals.

CONTACT US

Our team are dedicated to helping survivors of abuse seeking compensation. If you think you may have a claim and wish to speak in confidence please contact our team of experienced solicitors today on 0113 887 1834, complete the contact form or text LAW to 67777 to book a free information session at any of our offices.