When our relatives are looked after by others – either in a residential home or in their own home – we rightly expect our loved ones to be treated with dignity, compassion and respect.
We trust that they will be cared for in a way that we ourselves would wish to be treated. Sadly, there are times when this does not happen. If you suspect that your relative is not been cared for properly and you suspect abuse, then you need to speak out on their behalf.
What types of abuse do I need to look out for?
Abuse can take a number of forms including:
- Neglect and abandonment
What are the signs I need to look out for?
Abuse is not always obvious but trust your instincts. If something makes you feel uncomfortable or worried, you need to investigate if everything possible is being done to safeguard your relative and keep them from harm.
Signs that your relative might be suffering abuse might include:
- Appearing depressed, confused or withdrawn
- Being isolated from friends and family
- Being left without supervision if they are at risk
- Having unexplained bruises, burns, cuts or scars
- Appearing dirty, not dressed properly, undernourished or dehydrated
- Under or over-medicated – they may be in constant pain, or lethargic and unable to hold a conversation as they normally would
- Bed sores – sometimes known as pressure sores – and other preventable conditions
- Recent changes in banking or missing money/valuables
Financial abuse takes many forms but, as with other forms of abuse, there are warning signs to look out for, including:
- Being pressurised to lend money to relatives or friends
- Being pressurised to sign over property
- Unexplained shortage of money/taking money from a bank account or use of debit/credit cards without permission
- Unexplained loss/misplacement of financial documents or valuables
- A sudden change to a Will or bank signatories
- A change in living conditions – lack of heating, food or clothing
- Family members or ‘friends’ moving in with your relative unexpectedly
Financial abuse – how we helped rescue £1.6million for a client
A relative recently got in touch with us to find out if their loved one was entitled to Continuing Health Care.
However, in the course of our investigations we discovered that, the family member had suffered serious financial abuse.
How did the financial abuse happen?
How did we manage to identify that ‘long lost’ family members that had not been in contact for more than 50 years were intent on defrauding an elderly gentleman of £1.6million and how did we thwart their attempts? Read more here.
What do I need to know about safeguarding?
Safeguarding means protecting a person’s right to live in safety, without suffering abuse and neglect.
Any type of abuse or neglect is completely unacceptable. Do not allow a carer to attempt to justify the reasons – there is absolutely no excuse for abuse or neglect of any kind.
If you suspect abuse or neglect you should report it to your local social services immediately. They will be able to investigate and, if they suspect that abuse has taken place they will launch a ‘section 42 enquiry’.
You should also seek expert legal support to ensure that social services and the care provider are doing everything possible to safeguard the health and wellbeing of your relative.
It is a sad fact of life that fraudsters, criminals and petty thieves tend to target elderly people. They will often take advantage of their isolation, their trusting nature and lack of financial savviness to rip them off.
Unfortunately, these scams often work – you only have to check the news headlines to discover that these fraudsters are continuing to get away with their crimes.
Common scams and dodgy sales techniques used to target the elderly include:
- Doorstep fraudsters claiming to be council tradespeople, gas/electric/water board repairers to gain access to the property
- Dodgy traders offering to clean out guttering or re-tarmac the drive then demanding extortionate fees
- Pressure selling by salespeople invited to quote for double glazing, walk-in showers or other home adaptations, including refusing to leave when asked
- Phone calls or emails claiming to be from your relative’s bank asking them to transfer money
- Fake charity donation requests or being bombarded by numerous charities to give money (so called ‘suckers list’ targeting)
- Cold calls offering ‘Investment’ or ‘pension’ opportunities
What about the mis-selling of trust funds?
The mis-selling of trust funds, which are sold as a way of avoiding care home fees, hit the headlines recently.
One such alleged trust mis-selling scandal involves the Universal Wealth Group. The company, which collapsed with hundreds of clients fearing for their life savings, is the subject of an ongoing police criminal investigation.
Why are there allegations of mis-selling?
Universal Wealth Group preyed on the fears of members of the public – many of whom were elderly. Their clients were told that ‘ring-fencing’ their savings in a trust fund would protect their money from being used to pay for care home fees in the future.
The problem is that such trusts are often worthless when it comes to avoiding care home fees.
What can I do if am concerned that my relative is a victim of a scam or has been mis-sold a trust?
It can sometimes be difficult to know who to report a scam to – is it a police matter, should you call trading standards or get the Financial Conduct regulator involved?
Call The Care Fees Specialists Now
Steene Law specialise in Care Home Fees, especially protecting you from having to sell a property to pay for care home fees.
We are available from 8am to 7pm, 365 days of the year and will explain your options.
“I cannot thank David and Dianne enough for the effort and knowledge they displayed helping me deal with my Grandfather’s care and the subsequent legal battle that came with it.
I had a complicated and, to me, bizarre yet worrying situation that David and Dianne both worked tirelessly on.
My Grandfather was a WWII veteran and was neglected and treated as a statistic by a care home and a rather unforgiving council.
I’m grateful that David and Dianne not only got the result I needed, but made it simple to understand and took away a lot of stress. I have recommended them to many others and will continue to do so. Forever grateful!”