This blog forms part of a series of weekly interviews with several professionals during lockdown. It is aimed to inform Deputies and their teams about how each organisation within the field of Court of Protection has adapted to Covid-19. Our first willing participant for Lockdown Lowdown is Clarion’s very own Clare King. Clare is a Legal Director at Clarion Solicitors and leads our Court of Protection Team.
- How have you had to adapt to work during lockdown?
We have had to find ways of supporting our clients in place of seeing them in person. Care providers have generally been brilliant, with several companies accepting bank transfers from us on behalf of clients so that they can draw out cash and deliver it to clients to pay for shopping and other services. We have also had to be creative with processes such as mental capacity assessments and preparation of applications, which mercifully can be signed electronically for now, allowing some applications to still be lodged.
- What impact do you think this will have on professional Deputies?
A lot of our day to day work has ground to a halt as the COP is only dealing with urgent cases; Adult Social Care are operating a vastly reduced service; neither we nor other professionals such as case managers can actually visit clients, and lots of supporting services have stopped – community groups, gardening and property maintenance etc. We are just trying to ensure that our clients are safe and have food, accommodation and basic care services. That is all we can do. On the plus side, care homes have been forced to accept bank transfers for pocket money for residents so hopefully when this is all over, that will remain and negate the need for lawyers to go out just to drop cash to care homes, which we can’t generally recover the cost of!
- Have you learnt anything so far from the pandemic?
People are incredibly generous with their time and resources to ensure that people with care and support needs are safe during the pandemic. Also, people are suffering a great deal with distress over not being able to visit loved ones in care homes which has been very sad to witness; it has reinforced to me how loved people with dementia are, despite all the changes (and challenges) that the disease can bring.
- Have there been any reoccurring issues that your team has faced?
Very sadly we have lost two clients in one weekend from the COVID-19 virus and proper funerals cannot be held. I do not imagine that they will be the last so I think we will see this again and again. This virus has got a great deal to answer for.
- Have you and the team managed to get into a routine?
Yes – we have all found ways to continue to work with our clients around the demands of working from home with families! Members of our team are working really hard to continue to support clients including some very early mornings and some very late nights when small children are in bed!
- Have you experienced any difficulties with the Court?
Quite to opposite – Lynsey Harrison had a day long hearing in the Court of Protection using Skype for Business which was brilliant. They have had to prioritise certain cases but that is wholly understandable.
- How have you been managing your clients?
Telephone calls and more telephone calls! Plus heavy reliance on the superhero home care workers and care home workers. NHS frontline staff are heroes but so are the people who are quietly continuing to care for some of the most vulnerable people in our society during this crisis.
- Have you come across any useful forums/websites to assist professional deputies?
The PDF have been holding weekly meetings that I haven’t actually been able to attend yet due to pressure of work but the option is there and it is appreciated. Also, Practical Law have done a great guidance note that pulls together all the resources so together with the very regular guidance issued by HMCTS there is ample support for professionals out there.
- How have you been keeping busy during lockdown?
How did I have time to come to the office?! Between work, family, jobs in the house and garden, Zoom calls with family, friends and colleagues, and the emergency community network I have helped to set up, there isn’t any time! My social life (albeit on a screen) has never been so busy!!
- What are you most looking forward to after lockdown?
Racing down south to have a massive actual hug, as opposed to a virtual one, with my mum, dad and sister and then seeing my brother as soon as flights to Spain are reinstated as I miss them desperately. On the plus side, we are all safe and well so far.
Clare King and her team continue to work remotely to support their clients. If anyone has any questions for Clare, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Coming up in the series, we will be hearing from Francesca Gardner from Kings Chambers, Master Haworth from the SCCO and Ria Baxendale from the OPG. If you would like to suggest another interviewee for Lockdown Lowdown, please contact Stephanie Kaye at email@example.com or call 0113 3363402.