Concern over family’s handling of disabled man’s multimillion settlement, court told
Posted on 23rd March 2020 at 21:49
President of High Court says information must be provided to HSE
The president of the High Court has ordered family members of a severely disabled young man to urgently provide information to the HSE to address concerns over how his multi-million euro personal injuries settlement is being spent.
Mr Justice Peter Kelly said, for reasons including a “deeply disturbing” safeguarding report and a “troubling” forensic accountant’s report, this was an emergency situation.
The HSE, which until now had not been a party to the 18-year-old man’s case, is entitled to get involved and to orders permitting it carry out its own assessments of the man’s needs, he said.
The man obtained a substantial settlement some years ago which was intended to meet his life time care needs.
There are fears, because of how monies are currently being discharged, the funds will run out and he will end up in a nursing home, Katherine Kelleher, solicitor for the HSE, told the judge on Monday.
She said certain family members, who deal with providing care and nursing supports for the man, have not co-operated with HSE safeguarding and other professionals, including a forensic accountant asked by the wards of court office to investigate the man’s finances.
The man “utterly believes” what he is told by family members and has not cooperated with efforts to establish his views, she said.
Following receipt of a safeguarding report last weekend, a high level video conference of concerned professionals was held, she said. That lead to the HSE deciding it must get involved and seek orders from the court.
Although the services currently being provided for the man are being provided outside the governance of the HSE, the HSE believes it should be involved in assessing his current and future care needs, she said.
In this ex-parte application (one side only represented), the HSE wanted orders to that effect plus orders requiring the family to provide certain information, she said.
Patricia Hickey, general solicitor for wards of court, fully supported the HSE’s application and said she is very concerned about the man’s situation.
Because the man turned 18 some months ago, his minor wardship has ended but he remains under court protection pending an inquiry into whether he should be made an adult ward arising from a medical view he lacks capacity, she said.
Due to the coronavirus crisis and the need to limit access to the man, there were delays progressing that inquiry.
Ms Hickey said she believes the man is heavily influenced by family members and believes they have his best interests at heart.
“I don’t believe they do,” she said. This was a very difficult case to progress because of antagonism by family members towards the wards of court office, she added.
Mr Justice Kelly said he shared the concerns of the HSE and Ms Hickey. He had previously directed an investigation into the man’s financial situation by a forensic accountant and the latter’s report had raised “very troubling questions”. He regretted there was little co-operation by family members with the accountant.
Now the court had received a “very disturbing” report from a HSE safeguarding team which demonstrated, from their point of view, the man should remain under court protection.
There had been efforts to assess the man’s needs but those received very little co-operation from the family and major questions needed to be addressed about how his assets are being dealt with by family members.
This was of great concern because his funds had been “run down to a very considerable extent” and there was an issue whether they would meet his needs into the future.
He was satisfied this was an emergency situation, it was now necessary to involve the HSE and it was entitled to orders permitting it assess the man’s nursing and care needs, occupational and physical therapy needs and to nominate a psychologist to assess him.
The judge directed the family members to co-operate with those assessments and provide information sought by the HSE. He also appointed a guardian ad litem to represent the man’s interests.
The family members have liberty to apply to vary or discharge the orders, he added.
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