Solicitors are being invited to take part in a new study which is gathering information on how the processes surrounding the grant of continuing power of attorney may help or hinder family caregivers.

The research is being conducted jointly by the business schools of the University of Edinburgh and Heriot Watt University, and is an independent study funded by The British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust. The project team of Dr Kathryn Waite, Professor Tina Harrison together with Dr Kitty Shaw are seeking to interview legal professionals involved in assisting the granting of power of attorney by those living with dementia to family members. The focus of the research is on continuing power of attorney (CPA) or, alternatively, the combined continuing and welfare power of attorney. 

Prompting the research is the growing prevalence of dementia. Often those living with dementia enter into power of attorney agreements that empower a named person within their family to act on their behalf in matters of finance and welfare. However, whilst these arrangements provide vital support, they can be an additional burden of care for family members.  

Principal investigator Dr Kathryn Waite, Associate Professor of Digital Marketing at Edinburgh Business School, Heriot Watt University explained: "Our research aims to understand more about the role of the professional when setting up continuing power of attorney. We are interested in families providing informal care, since much of the research to date has focused on formal care arrangements (i.e. care homes) and there is a significant gap in our understanding."  

She added: "Through taking part in the dementia friendly study you will be helping to inform others of the role of the legal professional and guiding future policy and processes. The findings will provide valuable information about family caregivers' experiences and feed into ongoing customer relationships and service development. I would encourage anyone who meets the criteria to sign up and contribute to this important conversation."

Legal professionals are invited to take part in individual interviews in a private and not an organisational capacity. These interviews will enable the research team to gain insight into the range and variety of reasons that prompt individuals to set up a CPA, the role of the legal professional in addressing concerns, aspects of the process that work well (and those that do not), and the professional skills, knowledge and experiences that provide client value. Subsequent analysis will identify best practice and highlight issues by identifying common themes and patterns in experience. The published findings will be shared with professionals, policy advisers, charitable organisations, research participants and academics.   

If you are interested in taking part, please contact Dr Kitty Shaw on k.shaw@hw.ac.uk. If selected you will be invited to take part in an individual interview, which will take place via the telephone, MS Teams, Skype or Facetime. The duration of the interview is approximately 60 minutes. The interview is recorded. The recording will be stored securely in accordance with the University Ethics policy and GDPR. The data and findings will be completely anonymised. Participants will receive a £15 voucher. The study is open until 31 January 2022.