Over the following weeks we will be sharing a series of question and answer articles about our day-to-day lives in a Court of Protection team. This week, I interviewed Anne Pearson who is a Senior Manager in the Court of Protection team.
Anne has specialised in Court of Protection matters for over 15 years. Originally, Anne was a nurse before moving into the legal profession. Anne first worked on fast track personal injury matters before progressing to assist with catastrophic injury claims, including the reported catastrophic case of Biesheuvel v Burrell (1998) which was, at the time, the largest compensation award in the UK for a spinal injury matter.
How has your experience being a nurse and a personal injury lawyer influenced your work in COP?
My original background is in nursing in Leicester. After I took maternity leave I wanted to look for an alternative career. I relocated to Buckinghamshire in 1996 and found a position in a firm in Slough dealing with personal injury claims. As I become more experienced in this area of law I took on more catastrophic claims for spinal and head injury claims. This work introduced me to Court of Protection work.
I began work in the Court of Protection area prior to the Mental Capacity Act where Deputies were still called Receivers. I have now been dealing solely with Court of Protection work for 15 years. The implementation of the Mental Capacity Act saw much more responsibility passed from the Court to the Deputy. This proved to be much more beneficial to the clients as it meant they could be much more involved in the decision making. My background in nursing gave me a better understanding of the injuries and associated issues in the personal injury cases.
My knowledge of personal injury helped with understanding how a claim is progressed and how the compensation award for catastrophic cases was calculated. So both nursing and working in personal injury have really helped my work in Court of Protection.
Which personal skills does it take to succeed at this type of work?
It is really important for a Court of Protection practitioner to have empathy, understanding and be able to remain calm in stressful situations. I always remember that an accident causing catastrophic injury or medical negligence has devastating consequences to our clients and their families. I always bear that in mind when dealing with the families, particularly if they are being demanding.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Our aim within the Court of Protection team and in line with the Court of Protection requirements is to empower our clients as much as possible. That is easier to achieve with some clients more than others, depending on the severity of their needs. Some situations where our clients require increased assistance is when we are purchasing and adapting a property and applying for their benefits. When purchasing a new property for a client I always ensure I apply for disabled funding grants (DFG).
I have significant experience applying for DFGs and I have been successful on a number of occasions. I also have significant experience with applying for benefits and transitioning my clients from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payments (PIP).
To apply for PIP there is a very complex questionnaire to be completed so as to achieve the maximum benefit to the client.However, I gain most satisfaction from seeing that my client is happy and seeing them engage with me by smiling or looking pleased to see me. That makes all the hard work behind the scenes worthwhile because I know that I have done my best to provide my client with the best quality of life.