Elderly woman fit for discharge remains in busy hospital, court told
High Court orders her transfer to nursing home after hearing family has failed to do so
The judge said it seemed there are assets of some substance, including the woman’s home and cash assets, that could pay for the nursing home care but there was no co-operation from family members. Photograph: Collins
An elderly woman with dementia has been medically fit for discharge from a busy hospital since April but remains there because her family has failed to pursue nursing home care under the Fair Deal scheme, the HSE has told the High Court.
The president of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, ordered the woman’s transfer to a nursing home pending an application to have her made a ward of court, which would facilitate a Fair Deal arrangement. The weekly nursing home cost is €880, the weekly cost to the woman of a hospital bed is €1,615 and the hospital has between 35-40 people on trolleys on a daily basis awaiting beds, he noted.
A childless widow aged in her 80s and with an extended family, the woman is believed to have substantial assets, the court heard.
Catherine Kelleher, solicitor for the HSE, applied on Tuesday ex parte (one side only represented) for orders to have the woman moved to a nursing home pending an application to have her made a ward of court, which would facilitate care under the Fair Deal scheme.
The hospital is prepared to fund the nursing home care in the interim on the basis it will ultimately be refunded those monies from her assets, Ms Kelleher said.
The woman, she said, was admitted to the hospital last February having been referred by her GP due to concerns for her welfare.
She was considered medically fit for discharge last April and the hospital engaged with her extended family in relation to wardship and a Fair Deal application for nursing home care.
The substantial assets of the woman and her late husband could be accessed to fund nursing home care, Ms Kelleher said. While a niece of the woman had initially indicated wardship would be applied for, that was not pursued and it also appeared none of the wider family would get involved.
The woman is still in the hospital which is trying to deal with a “huge crisis” concerning availability of beds with 35-40 people on trolleys, Ms Kelleher said.
It is not desirable that she be charged for a hospital bed that she has no need for and she needs to be in a “much more appropriate environment”, she added.
The HSE has obtained two capacity assessments, which indicate the woman lacks capacity and meets the criteria for wardship, but they have to be put in sworn form, the court heard.
A Fair Deal assessment had also been organised by the HSE and an appropriate nursing home had been found. The hospital is prepared to pay upfront for the nursing home care on the basis it will be refunded from the woman’s estate in wardship, she said.
Mr Justice Kelly directed that an independent medical visitor should also assess the woman’s capacity and report to the court. He also made orders for the woman’s transfer to the nursing home, pending further order, and appointed a guardian at litem to represent her.
The judge said it seemed there were assets of some substance, including the woman’s home and cash assets, that could pay for the nursing home care but there was no co-operation from family members. The matter will return to the court when the medical visitor’s report is provided.