10 years of the Mental Capacity Act 2005: Working with the bank

Anthony Collins Court of Protection team is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the implementation of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (“the MCA”) this month. This week, our Claraine Walker considers the challenge of working with banks in the interests of individuals with impaired mental capacity.

Working with the bank: creative solutions for our clients

Every client is unique. We support deputyship clients who live in their own homes, alone or with family, or in care homes or other residential placements. Some clients are not able to manage any aspect of their financial affairs whilst others lead independent lives, and are able to manage their money on a day to day basis; managing their household shopping, or topping up their energy meter.

One thing is for certain; all our clients require access to a personal allowance in some form or other.

The practicalities of arranging this however can be very challenging. Without recognising that each individual client has specific abilities and needs, many banks approach mental capacity on a ‘one size fits all’ basis.

Case Study: Mr H

Mr H is a former veteran with Encephalitis; he is vulnerable to self neglect and has issues with his short term memory. Mr H is nevertheless able to lead a fulfilling and independent life and the deputy supports this with an ‘arms length’ approach, only stepping in when necessary.

Mr H’s bank did not recognise that he needed only minimal support and froze his account and access to his own money, taking away his independence and causing him great confusion and distress.

We were able to secure another account for Mr H, with an alternative bank. Mr H can now continue to enjoy an appropriate level of financial independence, once more.

Case Study: Mrs A

Mrs A has multiple sclerosis and is unable to manage the majority of her financial affairs; she does, however, love shopping! Her carers take her shopping every week but, like many of our clients, she relies on them to help her withdraw her money and to make payments in stores.

Many banks, noting that Mrs A has impaired capacity and a deputy appointed for her, would withdraw all banking facilities from Mrs A.  This is unnecessary. Our deputies limit the money passing into such an account, and operate a robust auditing process. Financial risk is minimised, and Mrs A is able to enjoy one of the simple pleasures in her life.

If the bank is prepared to work with the deputy and make modest adjustments to their processes, we can work together to lift the limits on clients’ quality of life.

Thinking outside the box…

We understand that there are times when stopping a client’s direct access to money is the right thing to do. But there are steps we can still take to help them retain their sense of independence.

Ms W moved to residential care following her diagnosis of dementia, and a rapid decline in her health. She found the loss of her independence most difficult to accept. She was used to managing all her finances with her chequebook and that facility had been taken away from her. Before the account was closed, we asked the bank to release as many chequebooks for her as possible. They agreed. Ms W continues still writing cheques (that can’t be cashed). Her hairdresser graciously accepts them, and then invoices us for payment. Ms W retains her dignity and a sense of having some level of control in her life.

For more information

If you would like to talk to our team about how we manage our Court of Protection cases, contact Claraine Walker on 0121 214 3519, claraine.walker@anthonycollins.com.