Stephens Scown LLP

We are a south west firm with a full range of business and private client legal services. Our Private Client teams provide expert advice on wills, trusts, probate, powers of attorney and mental capacity issues including disputed wills and trusts. In addition, our family teams specialise in all family matters including divorce and relationship breakdown, financial settlement, pre and post nuptial agreements and child matters. We have experienced private client teams in each of our three offices (Exeter, St Austell and Truro) who frequently provide legal advice to elderly clients and their families, some of whom may be facing a diagnosis of dementia. As a diagnosis of dementia does not automatically mean that an individual lacks mental capacity, we are committed to ensuring that we understand and apply the ethos that is at the heart of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, which is that a person must be assumed to have capacity unless it is proved otherwise. We have links to the Exeter Dementia Action Alliance and have solicitors who are members of Solicitors for the Elderly. Where necessary we work with other professionals, such as accountants, financial advisors and doctors, to ensure the best service is delivered to our clients. Stephens Scown LLP helps to support people with dementia, their families and carers by ensuring that our staff across the firm are aware of and sensitive to the relevant issues when dealing with individuals and their loved ones who are living with dementia. The firm will deliver this by providing dementia awareness training for staff in the firm, in particular to the private client lawyers, support staff and reception. Internally the firm aims to be a ‘dementia friendly environment’ and is introducing a Carers’ Support Group, to provide additional support and understanding for people who care for individuals, including those living with dementia.

10 December 2015
South West
Local Alliances:
Exeter Dementia Action Alliance (EDAA)

1. Action Plan

1. The National Dementia Declaration lists seven outcomes that the DAA are seeking to achieve for people with dementia and their carers. How would you describe your organisation’s role in delivering better outcomes for people with dementia and their carers?

Action 1:     

Title:  Audit and improve our communication, advice and offices to meet the needs of people living with dementia

Description: Audit the advice given across our offices to ensure that we deliver our advice as sympathetically as possible and review the terminology used when talking about dementia, to reflect the Words Matter Call to Action and ensure that all staff are made aware of this.  Strive to provide offices which are ‘dementia friendly environments’ and as comfortable as possible for people living with dementia, their carers and families.

Action 2:     

Title:   Support staff who have family members with dementia

Description:  Review and potentially modify policies and procedures to ensure that we provide appropriate support for staff who have family members or care for someone with dementia. The HR Focus Group will set up a Carers’ Support Group focussed on providing support and assistance to staff who are caring for individuals, including those living with dementia.

Action 3:     

Title:   Engage our staff in raising awareness of the needs of people living with dementia

Description:   Prepare and deliver Dementia Friends training across the offices, either face to face or by watching the website training video.

Action 4:

Title:  Increase Awareness of the importance of having an up to date Will and Lasting Powers of Attorney in place

Description:  Through internal referrals, website articles and general firm publicity ensure that individuals understand the importance of having a current Will which reflects their wishes, as well as Lasting Powers of Attorney in place in order that they can be confident that they have nominated their chosen individuals as their attorney(s) who can act if the individual with dementia is unable to make certain decisions themselves.  In addition, as end of life is becoming more talked about, ensure that individuals consider preparing an Advance Care Plan, if appropriate. 



2. What are the challenges to delivering these outcomes from the perspective of your organisation?

As with all legal providers, there is a challenge in getting people living with dementia and their families and carers to engage with trusted legal advisors before the dementia diagnosis becomes too advanced.  We are an individual focused firm who values clients and aims to build a lasting professional relationship with our clients and their families. 

We hope that by linking with clients at an earlier stage in diagnosis we avert the need for more expensive Court of Protection applications.


In addition, the firm wants to ensure that all staff across our offices are involved in improving how we communicate with, meet and advise people with dementia and their families.  The firm will encourage staff to find time amongst their busy workloads, to attend training, thereby increasing the number of Dementia Friends within the firm.

2. Actions