Judge orders woman (70s) with dementia be moved to daughter’s home
Posted on 30th January 2020 at 20:46
The woman has been in a community nursing unit for some months
An elderly woman with dementia whose adult children disagreed over her future care is to be moved from a community nursing unit to the home of a daughter, a High Court judge has directed.
High Court president Mr Justice Peter Kelly noted the daughter had said all her siblings would have access to their mother and the entire family have her best interests at heart.
He told them he hoped they would not show any rancour between them before her and they owed it to her to make the “very best” of whatever time she has left.
Aged in her 70s, the woman is a ward of court who has been in a community nursing unit for some months.
Mr Justice Kelly, who manages the wards of court list, was asked on Thursday to decide whether she should go to a nursing home, return to her own home, where some family members live, or go to the home of the daughter.
David Leahy BL, for the general solicitor for wards of court, the committee representing the woman’s interests, said the adult children have different views as to where she should live.
In evidence, a doctor involved in the woman’s care said the nursing unit is not intended for long term nursing care and may have difficulties with the Health Inspection Quality Authority if it keeps her much longer.
He expected her condition to deteriorate but that deterioration has not been as speedy as he had anticipated in previous reports. She was physically well as of now and, while she would ultimately need nursing home care, did not require that as of now.
Her prognosis is dependent to some degree on whether she contracted bugs and infections, he added.
When discussing prognosis and infections, the doctor remarked to the judge, as an aside, he had received a text from a colleague concerning a potential coronavirus case.
In reply to the judge, he stressed that potential case is not in the nursing unit but arose from an individual having attended the A&E department of a Dublin hospital.
Separately on Thursday, the HSE said there had been no suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus here.
During the High Court hearing, solicitor David Hickey, who met with the woman to ascertain her views, said he considered she lacked capacity to decide where she wished to live and had expressed no clear view.
The court also heard Sage Advocacy, which advocates for older people, had in a letter stated the woman’s face had “lit up” when the prospect of returning to her own home was raised.
That property was described by Mr Hickey as unsuitable for reasons including it is old with no bathroom on the ground floor. The woman has continence issues, is at risk of falls and needs 24 hour supervision, the court was told.
Having heard from all parties, Mr Justice Kelly said he considered the best option is for the woman to live in a family environment with one of her daughter’s in the latter’s modern home.
A nursing home or other institution is not appropriate for her at this stage for reasons including she would be more prone to contracting bugs and infections, which pose greater risk for persons with dementia.
The daughter had generously offered to facilitate access by her siblings to their mother, he hoped the arrangement would work out and she would be “happy and content”.
All of the options put before him carried risks, he could not foresee the future but he considered this option posed the least risk.
Because of the downward trajectory of her dementia, nursing home care will have to be considered in the future, he added.
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