Was it in P’s best interests to live at home?

In the recent case of Hull City Council v A & Ors [2021] EWCOP 60, the issue of whether P should be moved into a residential home, or whether she could remain in her property was considered.

By way of background, P is 76 years old, and suffers from late-onset vascular dementia, as well as agitation, anxiety disorder, psychosis, and delusions. As a result of this, P lacks capacity to conduct litigation, and to make decisions in relation to her care and residence. P is a widow, and has four living sons.

An application was submitted by the Local Authority, stating that it was in P’s best interests to transfer her immediately from her home into a residential care placement, as well as a request for the making of injunctive orders against P’s son, referred to as B (second respondent), to prevent him from obstructing the move.

B had presented proposals previously that he act as P’s primary carer, with her to remain living at home, with an assurance that he would seek additional professional support as and when required. The Court initially approved these proposals as being in P’s best interests. P was thereafter cared for by B, with a considerable level of support also being provided by external carers, who attended upon P at least three times a day.

With regards to B, his background includes a long history of criminal activity, including the supply and possession of cannabis, several convictions for assault, and a ten-year sentence of imprisonment for grievous bodily harm with intent. This history was not known to the Court when the option of B acting as P’s main carer was approved as being in her best interests.

During the proceedings, P consistently expressed a wish to continue living at her property. In addition, she has not been vaccinated against COVID19 and no further application has been made with regards to the making of a best interests decision on this point.

As a result of this, B cancelled all external care and support arrangements in place for P, she stopped attending a local day care centre, and visitors were not permitted to the property. B has also reacted in a hostile manner to visits from social workers, has become abusive and agitated on occasion, and has also refused to meet with social services at an external location. Concerns were also raised as to a bruise noted on P’s arm, to which B indicated had occurred as an accident, as well as disclosure from the Humberside Police, relating to previous threats made by B towards P, to kill her and burn her house down.

Orders were subsequently made by the Court on 29 October 2021 on a without notice basis, requiring B to allow a health and welfare check to be undertaken on P at her home, without him present to prevent obstruction or interference with the same. At this stage, the application regarding where P should reside and who should provide her care was adjourned.

Having considered P’s wishes and feelings, the relevant statutory provisions, and other recent events brought to the Court’s attention, it was held that it could not be in P’s interests to allow her to continue to live at the property and to be cared for by B. Taking into account B’s refusal to work with the other parties and the Court, it was noted that the only viable option would be to remove P from her home for an interim period, and for her to be cared for at a residential placement.

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