P the vulnerable party; How do we protect P and ensure that they are heard during mediation?

By the very nature of the Court of Protection, those at the centre of proceedings are some of the most vulnerable members of our society; the purpose of any proceedings here is to make decisions in their best interests. If mediation is to assist this process, it must also ensure that P remains the focal point; just as importantly P and or their representative must be heard in this process, so that that P is never subject to decisions they did not agree to.

At NDR we only ever use facilitative mediation in CoP cases; to us any arbitration based model would risk P being bound to decisions that they would not have agreed to and subvert the role of the court. Our preferred model, sees our mediators spend considerable time getting to know the issues involved in the case, and visiting P themselves in order to get to know their situation, as well as the normal pre-mediation meetings with other parties.

Often mediation allows the parties to narrow the list of available options and get to what really matters. This narrowed list can then receive more court time, and avoid further dispute between parties; whilst this gives a cost saving for professionals, it also avoids further disruption to P.

Our specialist CoP mediators have all worked in the field, and come from a range of professions around The Mental Capacity Act and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards including; Social work, Nursing, IMCA’s and Best Interest Assessors. Our team are used to working with vulnerable people and their relatives; we know that in any of these matters emotions are running high as everyone seeks to do their best for their loved ones.

We therefore have considerable experience at non-instructed advocacy ourselves, and have spent years developing our practice of working with those who cannot communicate as effectively. As a team we have worked in all sides involved and so are able to understand the dispute from all parties points of view. We can therefore ensure that P is kept at the heart of any dispute, whilst working towards a practical solution and way of moving forwards for P.

What started as simple disagreements over what is best for family members, quickly turn sour; the court process where family give evidence against family helps further this discord. This in itself is not in the best interests of P; if families are at war, they are distracted from caring for P together.

Perhaps this is one of the greatest benefits of Mediation, the process helps people to see each other’s point of view and brings parties closer together; not just families but the professionals around P who themselves at heart often care very much for the person at the centre of the dispute.

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