In April 2009, great-grandmother Betty Figg was snatched from her home by social workers against the wishes of her daughter, her former carer. Social workers arrived with police and a battering ram to remove the 86 year-old woman, suffering from dementia, from her daughter’s house where she had been living.
The media quickly spread pictures and video footage of Betty being taken from the house in her wheelchair with a towel thrown over her head. Social services did not agree with Betty’s daughter that it was in Betty’s best interests to be cared by her daughter in a specially converted room, in her daughter’s home.
Incidents like this can be prevented by creating a health and welfare lasting power of attorney (LPA) and giving it to a family member. Social services are then prevented from making care decisions.
Without an LPA social services can make decisions on behalf a vulnerable person, if they think they lack mental capacity and believe it is in their best interests. They do not have to follow what the family want and cannot be liable for their decisions.
Eleanor Dix, Associate at Hugh James, is encouraging all older people to plan ahead and make a health and welfare lasting power of attorney.
“It is an important document and sensible to get advice about the choices you have. What happened to Mrs Figg may never happen to you, but if it does, you and your family will be glad you made the power.”