Court of Protection – Part 11
Last week I discussed a training course that I went to presented by Senior Judge Denzil Lush and what he had talked about, as he has made the decisions on many of the cases that I have discussed in earlier blogs.
What else did he say? He had a discussion about the statistics of the Court of Protection and the work that they do. He said that the cases tend to be split into 3 different kinds of cases: dementia, young men with brain injuries and the learning disabled. With the increase in the aging population and the aging of the baby boomers after WW2, there is a “bulge” in this age demographic and the increase in people with dementia is likely to continue for some years yet, then once those baby boomers are mostly gone, the increase in numbers should slow. Time will tell if this prediction is right.
So why are there so many young men with brain injuries? The answer is relatively simple, they have driving accidents! They are statistically the highest insurance risk and therefore historically had the highest premiums, until the law changed to end the gender bias. Just because their insurance premiums may have lowered slightly does not alter the statistics that young men in their early 20s are much more likely than any other group to have a car accident. This group in the Court of Protection are those that have had a catastrophic brain injury, as opposed to a physical injury. These people can often live for extended periods of time, so anyone looking after their affairs may have to do this for a long time, possibly even decades.
Of the group of learning disabled people, Senior Judge Lush specifically mentioned autistic people. He said that when an application for a welfare deputy order is submitted it is almost always refused, as s.5 Mental Capacity Act (that medical professionals can make a decision in the best interests of the patient) generally works quite well, so there is no need for a welfare deputy order. However where they are granted it is often for a young autistic person, but almost always for a young person, where there is years of treatment ahead and lots of decisions to be made. Only 1.4% of all deputies are welfare deputies, which should put into perspective how many cases are refused, the result of which, not many people make an application.
Senior Judge Lush said that the average “life” of a case is 3.5 years and this relates to the huge numbers of dementia cases, as dementia is a terminal condition, which by the time someone living with dementia loses the ability to manage their affairs, they have a limited life expectancy.