A Day In The Life of Emily Ham
Summarise what your job is?
I assist a panel deputy with the day-to-day running of his cases. A panel deputy is somebody who is appointed by the Courts to manage a persons property and finances in situations where there are no other appropriate persons to do it on their behalf. Some of these cases come to us after previous attorneys have unlawfully taken assets, or they may have no family at all. Almost all of my clients have underlying health conditions like dementia, brain injuries, learning disabilities or mental health illnesses.
The main part of my role is administrative – paying care invoices and bills, maintenance of property and liaising with the Courts and other institutions about the case. I work with the local authority, the care home and the NHS to help put in place an appropriate care plan to ensure our client’s wellbeing and get them additional funding if they are eligible. I must also respond to various legal issues as they arise, such as investigating fraud from previous attorneys and taking the relevant legal steps to return stolen monies.
How do you get ready to start your day?
Besides sitting in excessive amounts of traffic? I lift share into work so will often check the news and listen to the radio on the way in. I have a flask of tea with me in the car but normally forget to drink it. Then the first thing I do when I get into the office is check my emails in case anything urgent happened overnight.
What is your favourite part of the job?
This job would be a lot more boring if it weren’t for the clients and their background – each case is so unique.
Whilst many of my clients are not that chatty, my role allows me an insight into their lives beyond their finances. One of my clients was a treasure hunter and I had to go through their correspondence with various museums and have the treasure valued. Another client has hoarding problems and is a big fan of Patrick Swayze in Ghost (who isn’t though…)
However, this gives me a better understanding of who the clients are and what they enjoy, and makes me more aware of how I can help improve their wellbeing now or put in place safeguarding measures if needed.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
The role of the Deputy is to prioritise what is in a persons best interests over that persons wishes. We obviously try to consider and make allowances for those persons wishes as best we can, but it isn’t always possible.
Mental Capacity is a complex thing, and many of our clients can say that they want something but do not understand the implications of having it. We sometimes have to reject what they ask for in their best interests. If left to their own decisions, they would buy too much Patrick Swayze merchandise to the point it becomes a health and safety issue from clutter and they become insolvent.
Its not nice telling them no because they get upset, but its normally because they can’t afford it or for safeguarding reasons.
How do you relax when you finish work?
Unfortunately I don’t! I am also studying my Masters and LPC part-time, so when I get home I get to enjoy a different type of working.
When it gets too late though, I will often play on my Xbox, read a book or watch TV. I also have ice skating lessons at the weekend.