HSE unable to find nursing home willing to take vulnerable woman, court hears 

Family members forced way into another nursing home and allegedly gave her illegal drugs – court told 
 
A vulnerable woman with a chronic incurable illness remains detained in hospital because the HSE has so far been unable to find a nursing home willing to take her since family members forced their way into another nursing home and allegedly gave her illegal drugs. 
Katherine Kelleher, solicitor for the HSE, told the High Court on Thursday the woman’s condition has improved, but efforts to find another nursing home willing to take her have so far proven unsuccessful. 
 
She sought orders, in the context of intended wardship proceedings, continuing the hospital detention while the HSE continues to seek a nursing home place for her. 
 
Given the “stringent” measures put in place last week by the Government to combat the threat of Covid-19, the woman will not be at a disadvantage as a result of the orders continuing, she said. The woman, aged in her 50s, has a variety of conditions, including chronic pulmonary disease and a chronic incurable illness, making her very vulnerable to Covid-19. 
 
The orders also restrain the family members visiting the woman and permit the HSE not to inform them of her whereabouts. 
 
Any nursing home which admits her can confiscate her mobile phone to prevent contacts which might disclose her location. 
 
Ms Kelleher said the orders would make clear to the woman’s family members they cannot “act with impunity”. Solicitor Alec Gabot, as guardian ad litem representing the woman’s interests, supported the HSE application. Mr Gabot, who visited the woman in recent days, said she is “probably one of the most extraordinarily vulnerable persons anyone could come across in society”. She has multiple health conditions and needs a wheelchair to get around and is distressed that has been taken from her, he said. 
 
The wheelchair was taken because she used it to move around the hospital and go outside and had received illicit substances while doing so, he said. It was considered she would not be safe, including from infection, if she continued to have it. 
 
Mr Justice Mark Heslin, who described the woman as very vulnerable with very complex needs, made the orders sought and listed the matter for further review in July. 
 
The woman had been transferred from the hospital to a nursing home last month but Ms Kelleher said, just a day after the transfer, some of her family members, who have a history of involvement in drugs and criminality, tried to force their way into the nursing home and threw drugs in a jumper to her through a window. 
 
This occurred after nursing home staff, in line with visitor restrictions due to coronavirus concerns, refused entry to the family. The incident caused great distress to staff and some residents who witnessed it, Ms Kelleher said. 
 
The woman was readmitted to the hospital that same weekend due to a health issue and the nursing home refused to take her back when she was ready for discharge. 
 
On the application of the HSE, the High Court on March 23rd made orders for her detention in hospital pending transfer to a nursing home. Other nursing homes must be fully apprised of the incident with the family members, the court directed. 
 
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