By Legal Futures’ Associates CILEx Regulation
Kelly Duke, owner of Argo Life & Legacy, describes her firm’s above-and-beyond approach to meeting the needs of vulnerable clients
At some point in everyone’s life they are vulnerable. This does not have to be because of anything in particular and could be due to a range of things. Sometimes it’s just temporary.
Many of Argo’s clients fall into this category because of bereavement, health issues, capacity issues, physical disabilities, frailty or as a result of influence being exerted over them. If we don’t consider this vulnerability we are at risk of claims against us for discrimination, compensation for bad advice if we did not consider the situation fully, complaints to our regulators and the loss of our reputation.
This is why when we look after our clients we take into account age, visible and invisible disabilities, capacity issues, cognitive impairment, mental health problems, brain injuries, different types of abuse (by themselves or a third party), bereavement, communication difficulties and many other things. Each has to be considered so that we can make sure we work with clients in a way that meets their needs.
It’s not always easy to spot someone who is vulnerable and this may be why some clients might think we ask some funny questions, like asking to see them at home or for family not to be present when we speak to them. This is not us being awkward or difficult, but us making sure we understand the situation they are in.
At every stage of planning and reviewing the services we provide at Argo we look at how we can best meet the needs of our vulnerable clients. Rather than always using the internet we actually speak to people! We go to clients’ houses so don’t have to struggle to come to see us. We have tried to make sure our website is as user friendly, easy to understand and simple as possible but we also provide everything that is on the website in paper versions if our clients prefer. We spend a lot of time in the community just listening and talking. Soon there will be podcasts on our website so that clients can listen to us as well!
We have tried to make our offices as easy to find as possible. We are above the Gateway in Maidstone town centre, just next door to the bus station on King Street. Our office is accessible by stairs, lift and escalator. We have parking and disabled facilities on hand and will even meet clients from the bus or train if that is helpful to them. Our office is bright and airy and calming because we want clients to be relaxed in our company.
We do not charge extra for emergency visits if clients are unwell or for visits outside of office hours. People can’t help it when things happen and you can certainly guarantee that if something does happen, it will not be between Monday 9am and Friday 5pm!
At Argo we want to make sure that clients feel safe in our hands and feel truly supported by us. Nothing is too much trouble.