• Tom Evans

BBC's 'Care' shines a light on flawed system.

Jimmy McGovern's story of a single mother (Jenny) forced to become full-time carer for her mentally incapacitated mother (Mary) is powerful and poignant.

The feature-length TV drama will be available on iPlayer for some time and is an interesting watch for anyone involved with issues relating to mental capacity or care.

SPOILER ALERT - This article refers to plot points.

In the opening act, after Mary suffers her stroke, a nurse asks whether there is a 'Power of Attorney' in place, to which Mary's daughters reply that they are 'going through Court of Protection.'

Given Mary's lack of capacity, it was indeed too late for an LPA to be made. In those circumstances, Mary's daughters would have applied to become their mother's Deputy (probably for both financial affairs and health and welfare). They clearly chose to appoint themselves as 'lay Deputies' rather than a professional (such as a Solicitor). This was the biggest mistake Jenny made. Of course, being a professional Deputy myself, I have no bias at all... but hear me out.

It took me only a few minutes of observing Mary's behaviours (which were very well-performed by Alison Steadman) to conclude she would be entitled to NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding. What I would later discover is that Mary's eligibility to CHC funding would form a crucial plot-point and provides the ultimate resolution to the film. Jenny stumbles across the CHC framework and bumbled through the complex application and assessment process. There is no doubt Jenny is an extremely caring daughter and was taking responsibility and ownership of the situation. There is also no doubt that she made a mistake by taking on the responsibility of becoming her mother's Deputy for property and financial affairs.

Had Jenny appointed a professional Deputy as opposed to herself, then Mary would have had CHC funding much sooner, months of distress and uncertainty would have been avoided, thousands of pounds of care fees would have been saved, and, most importantly of all - Mary would have had all the care that she needed. Paid for. For as long as she needed. Simple.

Obviously the film would have struggled for a tangible sense of conflict if a decent Solicitor has simply given the correct answer within the first 10 minutes.

Imagine Breaking Bad set in the UK. Walter White, recently diagnosed with cancer, walks into his doctors office with no means to fund an expensive treatment plan. He walks out with an appointment for an NHS treatment plan. The end. Where would be the fun in that?

Imagine BBC’s ’Care’ in which Jenny had had legal advice. Jenny, confuses and scared about how to get meet her mother’s needs, walks into a Solicitors office with no means of funding expensive legal advice. She walks out with backing of a professional Deputy who secures CHC funding for Mary. The end. Where would be the needless suffering in that?

Tom Evans is a Professional Deputy specialising in Court of Protection, Deputyship and Lasting Power of Attorney.

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©2019 Tom Evans