Wednesday, 8 April 2020

COVID-19: Contact With Care Home Resident: Major Ruling

Judgment has just been given in the Court of Protection in London on an attempt by the daughter of a care home resident to get him out and look after him herself if the home would not reinstate family visits. 

The resident is 89 and has Alzheimer's disease. He is deaf but is able to communicate through a 'communications board'. The care home had suspended all visits to him from family members on account of the pandemic and had adopted a similar stance in relation to other residents. The daughter had no complaints about her father's care - she was full of praise for the home which was expensive and tearing through the father's capital -but it was the ban that had caused her concern. The judge had no doubt that the father derived enormous benefit from contact with his family and also from his friends and that contributed very significantly to his general sense of well-being.

The european convention on human rights came into play here. The resident had a right to liberty and security except for his lawful detention for the prevention of spreading infectious disease but in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law. And the right to respect for his private and family life. But these rights can be departed from in situations of public emergency, threatening the life of the nation. That is what we  have now. 

During the emergency hearing, the daughter recognised that her offer of 24 hour per day single handed care for her father was not, in truth, a realistic option. However, with the help of the judge, a compromise plan was arrived at. Father would remain at the care home. He would be educated into the world of Skype with the creative use of a communication board and the exploration of concurrent instant messaging. Additionally, the family could, by arrangement, go to his bedroom window which was on the ground floor and wave to him and use the communication board. All this would require time, effort and some creativity.