Forth Valley Sensory Centre
Falkirk based Solicitors for Older People Scotland (SOPS) has partnered with Forth Valley Sensory Centre to improve accessibility and services for people with sensory loss.
Forth Valley Sensory Centre has provided sensory awareness training to staff at SOPS as part of a new partnership which aims to let people know about their rights regarding access to legal services.
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 Centre Users 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.
Centre Manager Jacquie Winning commented:
“It is great to see an organisation like SOPS taking steps to make their services more accessible to people with a sensory loss and their offices as welcoming as possible. We understand that many people don’t seek legal advice until after the effect so it can often be a difficult time for them. By making people with sensory loss 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.”
Forth Valley Sensory Centre provides support and advice to people with visual or hearing loss living in the Forth Valley area. For more information on the Centre and the various partners, follow @FVSensoryCentre on Twitter and Facebook. You can find out more about Solicitors for Older People scotland on their website here.