Helping people with sensory loss to know their rights is part of a new project launched this week.
Forth Valley Sensory Centre has provided sensory awareness training to staff at Solicitors for Older People Scotland (SOPS) as part of a new partnership.
Following requests from centre users, representatives from SOPS were invited to come and speak to various groups about different legal topics, especially Power of Attorney and will making.
It quickly became clear that many did not have this vital protection in place or, if they had, many had been charged large fees to carry out the work when they may have been entitled to Legal Aid.
As a result, Forth Valley Sensory Centre and SOPS are working together to improve access to legal services for people with sensory loss and help inform the different communities of the options open to them.
Vivienne Malcom from SOPS said: “We set up our service to help more people understand the key services they can and most importantly should access to make sure their wishes are followed and families are looked after as they grow older.
“Many older people rely on a spouse, friend or family to help them but in Scotland they would have no legal powers to help out should the person they care for become incapacitated.
“This is why making sure you have key documents in place is so important. Having in particular a Power of Attorney in place is critical.
“This will save a lot of problems, should someone fall ill and be unable to look after themselves. For many people over 65 Legal Aid is available to prepare powers of attorney and indeed wills.”
As part of the agreement, seven members of staff from SOPS, based at the Later Life Centre in Falkirk, have undergone sensory awareness training with Forth valley Sensory Centre. The training covered how to speak to someone who has a hearing loss and tips for helping them lip read, as well as basic guiding and assistance for those with sight loss.
Jacquie Winning, centre manager, said: “It is great to see an organisation like SOPS taking steps to make their services more accessible to people with a sensory loss. By making them feel more relaxed and welcome, customer service can be improved and we would ask any business that is looking to be more accessible to speak to us.”