Thursday, 21 June 2012

Overall, a tiring day

I’ve been selling some of my mother’s things on eBay plus some music and postcards so I’ve had to pack those that had sold.
After a quick detour round the charity shops, narrowly avoiding the torrential rain, I went to crossword class. Once again Jack had been allowed out of hospital for the afternoon so that was good.
On the way home I bought the Yorkshire Eve4ning Post to see what they’d written about last night’s poetry event – not much was the answer, so I checked on line where the coverage was rather better.

If you want to read my poem (it’s very short) You need to look hard as it follows straight on from the first poem about a discus thrower and is by Catherine Howard, my pen name.

Just after five, John gave me a lift to Seacroft Chapel, sometime base of ELFM, the local digital radio station. All week, people have been reading out their work  based round true events that shaped their lives. I read two pieces, one by another writer who could not get there that evening and my own piece about Mum’s solicitor and the EPA.

You can listen to it on the radio using catch up, but as I was a bit shaky, it follows here too.

In March 2011, completely out of the blue, I received a letter from Devon Social Services. Unless I registered the Enduring Power of Attorney my mother gave me in 2000, they would take over my mother’s financial affairs.
That letter gave me a huge headache. I’d moved to Leeds in 2009. It was my duty to register the EPA but at the same time, doing that from three hundred miles away and with no co–operation from Mum’s carer would be well nigh impossible.
As I battled with the problem, I couldn’t work, and I couldn’t sleep. I finally came to a decision. Whatever the emotional cost, I would register the EPA and find a way to take over Mum’s affairs. The one thing I was sure about was that my mother wouldn’t want strangers taking care of her business.
I wrote to her carer, asking for his co–operation.
On Monday 14th March, while I waited for him to reply, which he never did, I called Mum’s solicitor asking them to register the Enduring Power of Attorney for me.
I was told that my mother had issued new instructions and that as they were her solicitors, they were unable to act on my behalf. They refused to send me the document.
This was such a shock, I felt crushed. I asked the woman to tell me what was going on but she said she couldn’t.
I pleaded with her. If she couldn’t tell me what this mysterious new instruction was, could she at least tell me when it was issued? She refused. I pointed out that my mother suffered from dementia and I needed to make sure that whatever the instruction was, it was issued while she was still mentally capable. The woman still refused to answer.
I asked why this hadn’t been mentioned when I visited Exeter in August the previous year. I’d been given me a registered copy of the document, so that  I could show it to people like Social Services.  
Eventually, the woman’s boss came on the phone. His manner was cold and unfriendly. What it came down to was simple. My mother was their client. They did not have to tell me anything unless she instructed them to.
I argued how ridiculous that was. How could my mother instruct them to do anything? She had severe dementia. It was like talking to a brick wall.
After that phone call, I cried like a baby for hours.
Despite letters to her doctor, social services, and employing another solicitor, I got precisely nowhere. My mother’s affairs were taken out of my hands. Little more than a year later Social Services put my mother into a care home without even informing me.
On March 23rd 2012, I had a phone call, telling me that my mother had died late the previous night. She’d been in hospital with pneumonia. Nobody had bothered to tell me she was ill.
I didn’t expect her death to upset me half as much as it did.
Until 2009, when I gave up and moved away, my mother had been the focus of my life. All I ever wanted was for her to love me, or even just care a little bit about me. Now that  was never going to happen. I fell apart at the seams.
Several weeks later, when I could think straight, I wrote to Mum’s doctor. He informed me that Mum’s solicitor had contacted him in February 2011, asking whether she had the mental capacity to revoke the EPA. His reply had been an unequivocal no. My mother’s dementia was so severe that she was no longer capable of making any such decision.
I can’t understand why Mum’s solicitor did what they did.
They prevented me from registering the EPA which meant that it might as well have been revoked. In the end, a comparative stranger, with no training in dealing with dementia sufferers decided what was best for my mother. What’s more, he chose to ignore instructions she DID make when she was capable.
So now I have to fight for justice. If I don’t, other people who give their children power of attorney might as well not bother because solicitors can do what they like.
Surely that has to be wrong?

It’s only 8.20 but I’ve had enough for today, so it’s time to finish wrapping parcels and then I’m going to hit the chair, maybe even open a bottle of wine and have a bit of a chill.

1 comment:

  1. That's a powerful poem of yours, Linda, and well-crafted. It says a lot in very few words.