‘Happiness is more important than a long life’

Judge rules that pensioner who ‘hates’ her care home can return to her house – even though it might cut her life short

  • High Court Judge says: ‘Long life isn’t always justified at cost of happiness’
  • He ruled woman can go back to home shared with partner for 30 years
  • Even though ‘she may die as result of sudden deterioration in condition’
  • Unnamed woman has severe diabetes and requires 24 hour care

By Amanda Williams

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A woman confined to a care home on the orders of a court has been freed to return home – even if the move costs her her life.

The 67-year-old – identified only as M – has mild mental impairment and life-threatening diabetes.

She will be allowed to live in her bungalow, cared for by her partner of 30 years, and  visiting nurses and social workers.

In a previous hearing she had said of the home: ‘I want to be out of here quick or be dead.’

A pensioner who needs 24 hour care will be allowed to return home to be with her partner, rather than forced to stay in the nursing home she ‘hates’ – even though it might cut her life short

Mr Justice Peter Jackson, sitting in the Court of Protection, said in his ruling yesterday: ‘M hates it at the care home; she hates the people, she hates the noise, the impersonality, the lack of privacy and the absence of her own surroundings.’

The case, heard in Carlisle, is the first known instance in which the routinely secretive Court of Protection has reversed an order made under its sweeping powers to confine someone to a care home for their own good.

M was sent to the home in June last year because of her declining health, and subsequently told by the Court of Protection that she must stay there.

  ‘She hates it at the care home; she hates the people; she hates the noise, the impersonality, the lack of privacy and the absence of her own surroundings’

Mr Justice Peter Jackson

Mr Justice Jackson said she did not have the mental capacity to decide where she should live.

She ‘has an inflexible but mistaken belief that she can manage her own diabetes’.

As a result the court had approved a Deprivation of Liberty Standard Authorisation that prevented her from leaving the care home.

But a consultant psychiatrist, Dr Ian Leonard, had told the court that M’s quality of life was ‘significantly adversely affected by her current deprivation of liberty’.

He had referred to the ‘unsuitable, from M’s point of view, group of other inhabitants of the home, many of whom are much older and suffering from advanced dementia,’ Mr Justice Jackson said.

‘He pointed to her objections about lack of privacy, inability to come and go, and alienation from her home environment and her possessions.’

The woman threatened suicide if she was made to stay at the home, the court heard

M’s release from the care home meant a possibility that she might die if her condition deteriorated.

‘She has repeatedly and consistently said that she wishes to return home and has said that she will take her own life if this is not allowed to happen,’ the judge said.

‘If M remains confined in a home she is entitled to ask “What for?”

‘The only answer that could be  provided at the moment is, “To keep you alive as long as possible.”

‘In my view that is not a sufficient answer. My message to M is this: I hope that you will be happy when you return home.

‘If you accept the support you will be getting from district nurses and carers it may be possible for you to stay there.

‘If you do you will probably have to return to a care home.’

Last year another Court of Protection judge ordered that the daughter of a man confined to a care home should be jailed for repeatedly trying to get him out.

Wanda Maddocks was imprisoned in secret and her sentence for contempt of court remained unknown until it was revealed by the Daily Mail.

Her father died in the care home.

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