FIRST PERSON n IFA VIEW
Barefoot escapes, balloons
and cutthroat razors
Remembering the lives clients led before needing
care creates a more rewarding relationship with them.
Andrew Page explains his work with the elderly
Ashcourt Rowan Financial have for some time specialised in me. Her 83-year old mother had recently
Planning Limited advising older clients – helping been admitted to a local care home in
them, their families and professional the early stages of dementia. She was
attornies to deal with the issues an income beneficiary of a trust set up
1998 – date Ashcourt Rowan surrounding funding a stay in a by her late husband, with the capital
Financial Planning care home. The advice is often fairly ultimately passing to her stepchildren.
Limited straightforward – for example, there is The stepchildren wanted access to the
1997 – 1998 Financial Planning a usually a need to cover a shortfall in capital and sought to wind up the trust.
Manager, Nat West income over an unknown timeframe. While my solicitor connection was
Bank It is easy to tick the boxes in asked to help negotiate an appropriate
1996 – 1997 Financial Planner, these cases. Assets? Check. Income? capital sum to be paid to the old lady in
United Friendly Check. Expenditure? Check. Medical return for giving up her right to income
Financial Planning information? Check. Ok, let’s get on with for the rest of her life, I was asked
1984 – 1996 Various roles, providing a solution for the client. But initially to ascertain how much capital
Barclays Bank this approach used to leave me feeling would be ‘fair’ based on her age and
that something was lacking; that I wasn’t health considerations. All in a day’s work
really doing a ‘proper job’. for a financial planner.
Then I discovered the Society of Later However, having spoken at some length
Life Advisers, who taught me more to the daughter, the case became much
about the legalities around why I should more interesting. It transpired that her
ask questions like “Is the older person mother was a member of the Prussian
still themselves?” “Do they have capacity aristocracy, and that she had, as a young
to make these decisions?” and “Who else girl, fled the Russian Army during the
should be involved?” Second World War. This involved walking
barefoot across Europe with the horses
Discover the past that she and her family bred.
But these questions still don’t go It was during this trip that she met her
far enough. In my opinion it’s just husband who was in the British Army,
as important to take the time to who had led a colourful life himself. As a
understand who the older person really result of all this excitement there is now
is, and the life that they led before some doubt as to her real age as she did
requiring care – ie, making sure that not bring any of her original paperwork
they’re not treated as just some numbers with her when she fled her home.
in a spreadsheet! The recent Alzheimer’s This information has brought the case
Society campaign strap line “I have to life – it is not only more interesting,
dementia, I also have a life,” sums it up but has meant that my subsequent
pretty well, as does the following case. advice and discussions with her have
I was introduced to a friend of a local been very much put in context, and
solicitor who regularly refers work to made rapport building much easier.
xx Money ManageMent ■ September 2010
IFA VIEW n FIRST PERSON
Stimulation and reminiscence hand/eye coordination even at her age. thoroughly invigorated by the
Another time, a chance meeting led Her family happened to be visiting at experience, and determined to fully
me to be involved with a local charity, the time and were enjoying the session. enjoy my job and investigate the lives
Alive! They specialise in providing a The staff had been amazed at her skills of my elderly clients.
range of stimulating activities to help in previous sessions and could now talk
care home residents have a brighter to the family about this. Why is this important?
life. I met the driving force of the It transpired that the woman in Taking the time to find out more about
charity, Tim, who is a very persuasive question had been an excellent table elderly clients is all well and good,
and passionate man. At his suggestion tennis and tennis player in her youth. although some may argue that it is
I joined him at two sessions at local This helped the staff relate to her much taking the ‘know your client’ principles
care homes. better, and improved their relationship a step too far. So what benefit have I had
The first visit was to a home run by with her. from adopting this approach?
the local authority. This was enough The second visit was to a privately First and foremost I find my job
to completely change my opinion of run home. Again a variety of residents much more fulfiling than ever before.
local-authority-funded homes. The gathered for the session although in this It is fascinating to learn about the
low quality of care that I had expected case not all had dementia. Again the experiences that my clients have had
to find wasn’t there – instead I found songs and poetry, and the balloon game over many years. Life has changed
staff that were clearly very committed brightened the day for everyone. dramatically during their lifetimes and
to providing excellent care for their On this occasion Tim ran through a most have lived through a world war,
residents, including the sessions that simple quiz. This had a great reaction the invention of TV, not to mention
Tim ran on a weekly basis. from one woman in particular. She was the arrival of mobile phones and
The residents were all in various the oldest woman in the room at over the internet! Their perspectives and
stages of dementia and as such 100 – a fact proudly announced by one opinions have served to give me a more
presented various challenges for Tim. of the other residents. balanced view of life and to put modern
On this occasion there was one woman One quiz question suddenly sparked day living into context.
who was very restless but even she a memory for her of her father shaving All this has also given me a much
was dancing come the end of the hour! with a cutthroat razor when she was broader base of contacts within the care
He achieves this by using sing along a little girl. This must have been 80 sector, enabling me to direct clients,
sessions to old favourites, Last Night of or 90 years ago and she remembered their families and indeed professional
the Proms conducting, poetry readings, it as clearly as if it were yesterday. It attornies to the right places to obtain
quizzes and even a ‘pass the giant obviously was a very happy memory practical and emotional support when it
balloon’ game. for her and she opened up completely is needed.
This game involved each resident for the rest of our stay, talking very More importantly it has helped me
catching or patting back an enormous engagingly to me about her past life. become a much more empathetic and, I
yellow inflatable balloon. This caused It is the power of this engagement hope, a better adviser to these clients. As
much hilarity amongst the residents and reminiscence work that the a result I have a much broader knowledge
as people headed it, or patted it back charity does that is so impressive and of the issues that older people face and
very hard to Tim. again brings home the importance of now have a more deeply-rooted desire
The most interesting element was understanding the person involved, to improve the lives of older people in
that one woman was obviously very and being aware of their history. care, not least by giving them quality,
good at this game and had excellent I went away from both sessions rounded financial advice.
September 2010 ■ Money ManageMent xx