Martin, 64 years of age, had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s and was living at home with his wife of many years. Martin’s wife was appointed as his Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA). Martin experienced a psychotic episode after the administration of a trial drug for Alzheimer’s. Following a period of hospitalisation, Martin’s wife admitted Martin into residential care without any consultation with him or his family.
Martin’s brother rang the SRV helpline seeking assistance for Martin. A telephone advice appointment was arranged for Martin to speak to a lawyer and an advocate at SRV, with his brother there for support. During the advice appointment, it was clear that Martin wanted to leave the facility and live independently and freely. Martin’s brother confirmed that he was prepared to assist Martin to do so, if there were no legal restrictions.
The lawyer and advocate provided initial advice to Martin, informing him of his rights. Martin requested a copy of his EPOA from the manager at the facility. He was denied this right.
After consulting with Elder Rights Advocacy and the SRV lawyer, the SRV advocate contacted the manager of the facility. The advocate explained that the refusal was a breach of Martin’s rights and the facility’s obligations under the Charter of Aged Care. The manager was unaware of the requirements under the Charter of Aged Care and apologised, saying that Martin would be given a copy of his EPOA.
Martin and his brother received ongoing legal advice and advocacy support/coaching for Martin to leave the facility. Martin moved in with his brother and sister in law, who was supportive of the plan and an experienced aged care worker. He then needed to remove his wife as EPOA, as she had continued to ignore his will and preference, was selling off his personal items and had accessed Martin’s superannuation and other bank accounts – all without Martin’s consent.
The SRV lawyer advised Martin and his brother to lodge an application to VCAT, under the Guardianship and Administration Act, seeking removal of the Attorney. SRV supported them with the application and assisted with gathering medical reports and undertaking a cognitive assessment by a neurologist experienced in cognitive decline.
For nearly two years, the SRV advocate and lawyer supported Martin. This included representing Martin at VCAT hearings, having regular consultations, and liaising with external services such as mental health providers, NDIS, and a private law firm. While it was clear to SRV staff that Martin did have cognitive decline, SRV took an empowerment approach to their assistance of Martin. Martin was able to clearly identify and communicate his intended goals. Martin’s brother demonstrated his commitment to support Martin achieve his goals and to live independently.
Martin now lives independently in his own unit, in a lifestyle village. He manages all areas of his life except for his financial matters. His brother is his financial administrator, as per a VCAT order. Martin has concluded a family law property settlement and obtained a divorce. He had his driver’s license reinstated and purchased a car. He attends exercise classes twice weekly, walks daily, and spends time with family and friends. Martin is in good physical health. His cognition has improved so much that he has resumed his passion for reading books. Martin’s next goal in the coming months is to drive solo to QLD to visit friends.
If you, or someone you know needs of some support you can call the SRV Helpline on 1300 368 821