19 May 2022

Older client care in practice

By Miranda Marshall, Director, Hayes + Storr.

In my last article, I considered the work of the specialist lawyers’ group Solicitors for the Elderly (SfE). Since then, I have completed the preparation and passed the assessment to renew my SfE Older Client Care in Practice (OCCP) accreditation for another 5 years (which should pretty much see me though to my own retirement!).

The ethos of SfE is that the solicitor as an older client advisor is so much more than just a lawyer. By learning additional skills and techniques, SfE members can give older and vulnerable clients a voice, a chance to make themselves understood, to protect their futures and ensure that they feel valued in society.

The SfE Code of Practice states the foremost importance of acting only in the best interests of the client, respecting their dignity and taking a holistic approach to problem solving.

Clients should always be seen alone at some point in the matter; but of course, a trusted friend or family member can give assistance and join meetings. There is always the need to be mindful of potential undue influence or other pressure, even if well-intentioned.

Clients’ needs are an important sensitivity. Hearing and vision difficulties should be considered when communicating. The pace a duration of any meeting should be attuned to the client. Legal terminology should be kept to a minimum and plain English used.

We are encouraged to take all practicable steps to maximise decision-making, particularly where clients are compromised by not just physical or mental difficulties, but also emotional ones.

Home, hospital and care home visits should be offered, where required, and the extra costs of these explained.

Clients of all backgrounds may require these specialist services. These skills are in addition to technical legal expertise. Although people tend to think of this work as mostly in the realms of Wills and Powers of Attorney, and other traditional elderly client matters, advice also covers property transactions, dispute resolution and even divorce and other family matters.

For further information, please contact Miranda Marshall on 01263 712835 or email miranda.marshall@hayes-storr.com.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.