Legal Implications of Someone Helping in the Home

Discussion in 'Legal and financial issues' started by Claire-5000, Feb 13, 2018.

  1. Claire-5000

    Claire-5000 Registered User

    May 1, 2017
    My friend had recently started a company helping people to organise/declutter their homes. She's been approached by the mother-in-law of a lady with early dementia (recently diagnosed) who has got overwhelmed with clutter and wants to hire her. The lady's dementia mainly manifests in short-term memory issues and she has no insight into her dementia.

    After years with Dad, she asked me my thoughts on her helping this lady. She's very concerned she could be accused of taking advantage of this woman.

    I've advised her to speak to the lady at length but in a simple way, repeat everything a few times, make sure she feels happy with what she's doing and isn't being pressured into it, make sure the lady can understand what is being said and obviously that the Drs believe she still has mental capacity.

    The last thing she wants is to distress the lady or leave herself open to accusations of theft, etc. But equally, if this lady is feeling overwhelmed, it seems unfair not to help her.

    She would have a signed contract and also thought about making the family sign an additional disclaimer saying the family have said she does have mental capacity and they are in agreement.

    What do you all think? Is this worth helping on or is it too risky?
  2. Louise7

    Louise7 Registered User

    Mar 25, 2016
    I think regardless of whether the lady has mental capacity or not a stranger coming to the house and taking items away could be distressing. Could the son/daughter in law or another family member be there when your friend does the de-cluttering?
  3. Tin

    Tin Registered User

    May 18, 2014
    Difficult one, but does the daughter in law have any legal or health responsibility? Personally I would not take this on, just too complicated and confusing for a Dementia sufferer, especially if she has not agreed or requested this service. Has the mother in law requested this service.?
  4. Claire-5000

    Claire-5000 Registered User

    May 1, 2017
    She does work with other people with mental health problems such as hoarding so it's a slow process of agreeing on everything that gets thrown out. Her concern is the lady may not remember what she agreed at the time. I agree, it would be good for a family member to be there. I have a feeling they'd rather just pay to get someone in so they don't have to deal with it..
  5. Registered User

    Jan 16, 2014
    Personally I think this could be fraught with difficulties for your friend vulnerable to misunderstanding and accusations and the pwd with her vulnerability due to the illness
  6. Claire-5000

    Claire-5000 Registered User

    May 1, 2017
    #6 Claire-5000, Feb 13, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
    The more I think about this, the more I agree. Dad's house is falling apart because I haven't wanted the stress to him of builders coming in. It could be a similar thing depending on the person couldn't it?
  7. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    What happens if something intrinsically valueless turns out to be important to a family member and you've skipped it? What if something has been promised to a family member.
    I was quite surprised at some of the things my brother took home with him as they were "childhood mementos", personally I'd have binned them but they obviously meant something to him and I'm not talking about things of value. He also persuaded me to take some of the ornaments home with me for mum's room (she moved in with me), that I could understand, but not some of the tat he wanted to keep.
    When capacity is in question it's best to be cautious, as others have said have a family member there if you can or list, itemise or take picture of what's going to the tip and give the family a few days to object.
  8. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    I've seen enough programmes to know that anyone who is classed as a hoarder must both understand and want decluttering help, and even then it is fraught with problems as hoarders have developed an irrational attachment to their belongings. Bring dementia into the mix, where irrational behaviour is the norm but insight into it is often lacking, and it becomes almost impossible. I would stay clear of this job if I was your friend, to tell you the truth.
  9. Tin

    Tin Registered User

    May 18, 2014
    Yes I think so too. I have avoided redecorating some rooms in my home because of the effect it would have on my mum, the first avoidance being strangers to her [not me] in our home and that's a big no, no. Or she would pester them so much I think they would never get the job done in my time.

    The big problem for your friend would be simply memory. The hostess mode would be on, but there could be terrible consequences after your friend leaves the home. Imagine, this could be a genuine claim of "someone entered my house and stole all my things"
  10. LadyA

    LadyA Registered User

    Oct 19, 2009
    My husband had a vast collection of photos on slides, that needed a projector for showing on a screen. Literally, thousands of them, going back to the mid 1950s. They were mostly rubbish, in that they were scenery, or random people that no one knew anymore. Most weren't labelled.
    Years ago, in the very early stages of his illness, I spent weeks digitising them. Scanning each one, deciding which were family photos, or otherwise important to his family, and saving them. The slides were then discarded. Years later, when he was well along in dementia, I was driven mad as he went on and on for weeks about how "all the poor tiny people are gone!" Until the day that, as he said it, he made the shape of a slide photograph with his hands, and I realised what he was upset about! Luckily, I had the photos on my computer and could reassure him by showing him.

    Personally, I wouldn't take this job, if it were me. Too much chance of repercussions down the line!

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