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Have Your Say: Dementia and banks

Older person's hands
Dementia and banks

Lloyds Banking group offers compensation to the family of a woman with advanced dementia who was given an 18 thousand pound unsecured personal loan for home improvements.

Jean Hyde was granted the loan even though she did not own her home and the monthly repayments were nearly half her income before she paid rent, utilities and food bills.

Money Box discusses what banks need to do to improve services for customers with dementia and mental illnesses and looks at what steps families can take to help relatives.

- Do you have dementia or a mental illness? What experience do you have of dealing with your bank?

- Are you a relative? How sympathetic have you found banks or other financial institutions?

- How have you managed to assist your relative in their financial affairs?

- What do you think banks should be doing to better help customers with dementia or mental illnesses?

- Do you work in a bank? How well equipped do you think banks are to help vulnerable people?

As always we want your questions and comments.

My granddad recently died from Alzheimers and the only reason something like this did not happen was because the bank staff knew him and would have not allowed it. I completely sympathise with the family here, it is a horrific condition in which all ordinary senses go. Would it not be a good idea for Alzheimer/dementia patients to have a tag or bracelet which can identify them?

Janie, Dumfries

I work in the financial sector in a local branch and i can see how the lady with dementia was given a loan. We are targeted and put under a lot of pressure to "sell". I however have more morals, although it does not make me popular with middle management, as I will never "sell" to someone who clearly does not have the need for a product. We are currently being pressured into telephoning customers to "sell" products however we have been told off for ringing customers inviting them in to review accounts that have matured into poor interest rates and mortgages that have come off a fixed product onto the SVR, which currently stands at 6.00% AER!! Now you tell me how that is "treating customers fairly".

Anon

Hang on a moment. It really isn't the job of a bank to make decisions of whether or not a customer is mentally fit-enough to take out a loan. Can you imagine the outrage if customers were turned away on that basis and they turned out to be fit and well? You can blame the banks for many things but this isn't one of them.If the lady was a poorly as the family maintain why didn't they apply for a power of attorney before this point?

Paul, Newbury

I am at the moment trying, with difficulty, to resolve a problem that my sister in law has with Santander UK. She has physical and neurological disabilities, as a result of an accident at age 10 yrs. She is not a good money manager. She had a £350.00 overdraft arrangement with them, and she was constantly bouncing off it. When she asked for them to increase the limit, she was advised that a credit card would be the best solution to her problems. Because she cannot fill out forms or assimilate contracts, they filled it out for her and she signed it. She was issued with a card, with a £2500.00 limit. That was unknown to us at the time. When the family became aware of the full extent of her financial problems. She was £2300.00 in debt. Santander doesn't accept that it has done anything wrong. A letter, in desperation, to the CEO has resulted in a more positive reaction. But I am not holding my breath.

Jeremy, Christchurch

He should have secured joint signatures on the account as Power of Attorney, if the son was aware of the condition. The bank only failed by offering her more than £14,500.

Anon

This does not surprise me, Lloyds is a very heavy selling organisation, people are seen by staff as points not people, I worked for them and left following these despicable practices

Not an isolated incident. My father died a few years ago and he also had dementia. Again a small estate but what a mess we found. Lloyds TSB had sent up numerous accounts - including an Internet saver account - my father had never owned a computer and I don't think ever used one in his life. They also had him with a buildings insurance policy - he also lived in a council house.

Catherine, Scotland

This is the tip of the iceberg and is sickening..While banks such as Lloyds incentivise employees to sell products, these scandals will continue unabated. Change the bank rules and the law to make such sales illegal and subject to severe penalties.

Mark, London

I have a ongoing complaint with Lloyds TSB who sold my mum a car loan (she doesn't drive ) and she only had invalidity benefit to live on initially. Then mum became a pensioner and they continually up-sold on the loan year on year, sold her the PPI to go with it every time. She has the PPI back but I've made a complaint about the loans. She is now 75 years old, and is paying them £316.60 pcm for a loan at an APR of 20.98%! How many more vulnerable people will they sell to? When I complained initially, the first response was....we cannot discriminate against giving your Mum a loan just because she is old! But...don't you have a duty to ensure you are not overselling to ensure people can act?

Jane, Nottingham

As a former employee, this does not surprise me. The pressure on "sellers" to lend is phenomenal. Questions are asked if you don't. I ended up on the sick because of it. I couldn't morally do what was expected. Not just with loans but credit cards, insurances and new accounts. The bank "sells" to customer needs, but you have to pressurise the customer to realise that need or you don't hit your "target" and don't get bonus.

Anon

Lloyds TSB should repay any and all costs associated with this error. If their systems of loan applicant vetting are not rigorous enough to prevent the granting of loans to people in this kind of vulnerable situation, they should review them, and make them more so.

Tim, Lampeter

As a bank employee I am aware of how illness/dementia can affect an individuals ability to manage their own money or to make decisions but unless a formal arrangement has been made with the bank by court order or POA it is very difficult for us to understand their capability. In this situation the lady had family who could have made the bank aware of her illness and taken some action to protect her and her money. I think the families of vulnerable people should take some responsibility for their financial well-being.

Cheryl, Lymington

This doesn't surprise me in the slightest - when an older relative of mine phoned LTSB with a query on an internet payment, he was strong armed into purchasing unnecessary insurance. I was unable to make an official complaint as I would have had to have involved him (at 80 I didn't want to cause him even more stress). Amazingly LTSB phone lines don't know the phone number for the banking Ombudsman.

Sarah greenwood, Barnsley

I looked after my mother with early onset dementia for 10 years. In the early stages we tried to allow her as much independence as was safely possible. To facilitate her safety I tried to negotiate with the bank. While they seemed to be sympathetic, they would not allow me any control over over her bank account, saying it was her money and no one was allowed to stop her taking it out. Finally they agreed to limit her daily withdrawals to £10. One particular employee of the bank went out of his way to help us, even phoning me if my mother had been in and left her walking stick or gloves behind. I cannot thank that man enough. I was desperately worried about her safety all the time, but needed to allow her as much freedom as possible, and these small additions to the service meant she could continue her chosen routine for months longer than would otherwise have been safe.

Emma, Cambridge

I am a former employee of Lloyds TSB, I resigned as a result of the pressure employees are put under in order to sell loans. An 18k loan would easily have been more than 1 days target for a seller in this type of role, and I would like to add that no regard would have been taken regarding the mental health of the patient. From the minute you walked in the door till the minute you left, the agenda was sell loans.

Anon

Of course, there are two sides to this. Here we have the relatives of a person with mental health problems saying the bank should have refused her a loan on grounds that she is ill ('lacks capacity' in legal terms). It would take your reporters only a matter of minutes to find organisations such as 'MIND' demanding that people with mental health problems should be treated no different than anyone else. Certainly they are now allowed to wander the community with little care or control - even though in this case the person was highly confused, unable to make decisions and even violent.

Anon

It would be interesting to see the article that will follow the first occasion on which a bank refuses someone a loan specifically because they have mental health problems. The article will probably include the person/MIND taking proceedings against the bank under 'equalities' legislation.

John, England

My sister was lent 4K by Barclays despite being previously sectioned and on occasions having to unfortunately stay in a secure unit. I contacted the branch and explained the situation and that she should not be lent the money. The money was lent and my sister spent the money in a very short time. My sister was then put under pressure to repay the money which of course she couldn't do as she survived on disability benefits. Sadly my sister died a short while later from lung cancer. I tried on several occasions to take on the bank over their deplorable behaviour but as you can imagine I ran into indifference.

Nick, Devon

Re LTSB I worked at one of their contact centres for 7 years and it became more and more purely sales driven, and I know other branches were the same. We were given more and more access to confidential credit data etc and it was only so we could sell loans, credit cards and even mortgages when people just phoned to get a balance. The training was all about selling loans and credit at all costs and they really didn't care much as long as you got the sale. I came across lots of customers who had credit cards and premium type current accounts and they were totally inappropriate, people with learning difficulties, confused elderly people they were easy targets for keen advisors and as long as the sale was made the managers just let it go as they were rewarded for their teams sales too.

Marion, Bridgend

My mum has dementia and became unable to manage her money, in particular regularly drawing out large amounts of cash to the point of going overdrawn. Fortunately she had drawn up documents in advance, giving my brother and I power of attorney so all we had to do was invoke it by applying to the courts with a doctors backing - then we could then take control of her money. It is important to sort out the power of attorney with a solicitor before the person is deemed incapable - it can only be invoked once they are unable to manage.

Helen, Roydon

I have had to manage my partner's finances since a stroke in 2008, which left her unable to use the telephone or keyboard but able to sign. After perusing all the recommended POA routes with frustration I found that the easiest way to ensure safe management (even in the event of something happening to me) was to set up joint accounts - not only with me as a joint holder but with other relatives as well. HSBC is particularly helpful in this - even if a joint holder does not live in the UK, which is a requirement from most. I find that this method is not advised often enough and you did not either today!

Terence, Honiton

In response to your item about the sale of a loan to an elderly lady with dementia, I wanted to let you know about an incident I witnessed recently. I'm a volunteer with a charity which gives support to vulnerable families. My client asked me to escort her to see her bank manager to sort out direct debits and ask for a review of recent overdraft charges. We spent ten minutes explaining my client's mental health situation and the financial strain she has been under etc. the bank (Natwest) nodded sagely, confirmed that they had a disability policy and she was sympathetic. She then attempted to sell my client not one but two insurance policies. I was horrified and needless to say helped my client to turn these down. My client said afterwards that she thinks she may have been persuaded to take the policy if she hadn't been with an advocate. Banks should have much clearer sales policies if dealing with vulnerable people and staff should be trained to recognise and - back off!

Marilyn, Manchester

I have a disabled son, with no history of work, and more than ten years evidence of not being able to manage his money. I am continually paying off his overdrafts; last year I paid off hundreds of pounds he incurred in bank charges during a four month period with a Santander bank account. He has very limited understanding of money management. He has recently opened yet another bank account, this time with NatWest and I am horrified to find they have given him a credit card. How do the bank think he will repay any money he borrows? He is living entirely on benefits. As a widow, I am not able to continually bail him out. Surely banks have a moral responsibility to ensure that any loans, either for credit or overdrafts, are only given to people who have sufficient money to repay the bank.

Jenny

Having had 2 grandparents as well as many of their siblings suffer with dementia, I have great sympathy for the situation Mr Hyde is in. However, as with many diseases people with dementia have good days and bad days, is it possible that Mrs Hyde applied for the loan on a day where she seemed lucid? I am glad that Lloyds did accept fault as they did not do a proper assessment, but if there was no indication to them that Mrs Hyde was unwell then what reason would they have to decline the loan?

Nick, Leeds

I am not generally a supporter of banks but I do think the criticism made by Jean Hyde's son and his demand for compensation is wholly unjustified. How on earth was the bank supposed to know that Mrs Hyde suffered from dementia? She was evidently sufficiently compos mentis to complete the loan application, so was Mr Hyde expecting them to require a medical certificate before granting the loan? The fact that she wanted to carry out home improvements on a house she didn't own is hardly a sign of mental illness. Many tenants spend substantial sums on home improvements. Ironically, had the bank refused the loan they may well have laid themselves open to a claim of disability discrimination!

Michael, Clitheroe

Many older people live away from families. In these cases the need for continuity of contact with the bank becomes vital to protect both interests; the human element cannot be ignored since no automated service can distinguish between rational and irrational demands. Also there is a great need for older people to be considered when only one partner takes care of financial matters. It is very disturbing for an elderly spouse to find they cannot access bank funds if their partner is very ill and unable to attend to financial matters. This has happened to me as well as others and is extremely upsetting. Barclays Bank assures me they are trying to find a way to avoid such situations but they haven't done it yet.

Joan, Spalding

Good luck in your battle with Lloyds TSB - I'm a welfare rights officer who specialises in cases such as your late mothers. Speaking from experience LTSB are an appalling company to deal with. My advice would be send a formal letter of complaint & then take the matter up with the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Mark, Tynemouth

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