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My name is Joy Peart and I'm an AWOC, Ageing Without Children.

Welcome to the front line of what it means to be A.W.O.C.

It seems to me sometimes that the world is made up of those who cannot live without BBC Radio 4 and those who just don’t get it. I’d go so far as to say there are those (myself included) for whom life would be scarcely worth living without ‘Thought for the Day’. To that I will add ‘Something Understood’, ‘Desert Island Discs’, ‘The Life Scientific’, ‘Poetry Please’, ‘The Shipping Forecast’, ‘Last Word’.

I could go on but please note I make no mention of The Archers or The Afternoon Play, both of which I can’t stand.

Today however I wish to refer to BBC Radio 4’s excellent consumer programme, ‘You and Yours’ which was broadcast on April 1st 2022, and is a story that concerned me greatly, making me think - 'Is this what lies ahead of me.

It concerns a lady who, prior to retiring, had a good career working in England and Italy. She had not married, had no children nor relatives. Living independently until her mid eighties, at which time she began to have dementia. Thus, she entered a nursing home in Scarborough whereby she arranged to finance her own care.

In her nineties she began to lose capacity at which point a solicitor was appointed to deal with her affairs as she was no longer able to do this for herself. The solicitor, unable to build a picture of her financial situation, had to approach the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman who, in turn, approached the Court of Protection. The company who ran the care home were asked on 13 separate occasions to supply financial records which they are required to keep. Since 2009, the Ombudsman has had the power to investigate complaints into the affairs of self-funders, which begs the question what happened before said date?.

In the past decade a thousand such cases have been investigated. This case was unusual because the care provider had repeatedly failed to supply the information requested. It lead to the publication of an “Adverse Findings Notice” which is a public statement to the affect the Ombudsman is not satisfied with what the care provider has done.

Why on earth didn’t she have a Power of Attorney in place? Is that what I hear everyone cry?

I say this - why is no-one addressing the issue of what the heck you do if you have no-one to appoint as Power of Attorney? I, possibly like this lady and many, many others, am an AWOC for goodness sakes. Wake up, authorities…

In my opinion there should be some way that people in this situation could approach the Office of the Public Guardian, or the Official Solicitor and say 'I’m getting on a bit, I think I’m going to need a bit of help here so I want to alert you to the fact that I may be in need of some oversight and advice from you'.

It is too late for this lady, whatever they find out when they finally get to the bottom of it all. But if there was some way of flagging oneself up in advance would this not be an intelligent (not to mention humane) thing to do? Particularly if one is an AWOC with no close family (or simply no one) to alert authorities, legal et al, that we have no one to declare as our Power of Attorney. We may not want a lawyer as our POA (maybe we don't have a regular lawyer?). But we need a trusted person to act for us. We need a trusted person to be our next of kin. If we are awocs such persons are not always readily available. Particularly as one ages.

Could there not be some sort of official list begun? To be kept at the Registrars Office, perhaps?

It's a troubling problem for many awocs. BY

It troubles me…



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