High Court permits transfer of woman to nursing home against her wishes

Woman in her 80s with dementia had been in hospital for almost three months

The High Court has granted permission for the Health Service Executive (HSE) to transfer a woman with dementia from hospital to a nursing home against her wishes.

The woman, who is in her 80s, has been in hospital for nearly three months, and there is now no medical reason for her to remain there, said Áine Hynes SC, for the HSE. There is a bed available from this week at a nursing home, she added.

The court heard that a multi-disciplinary team had previously attempted to support the woman to live at home with a home care package. However, she could not manage to live in the community safely, and she was readmitted to a hospital psychiatry department in August last, Ms Hynes said.

The HSE asked the High Court to permit the woman's transfer from the general hospital to an approved long-term nursing home. It asked the President of the High Court, Ms Justice Mary Irvine, to sanction the involvement of the allied admission team, which assists in the transfer of some patients with mental health or medical requirements.


Ms Hynes said nurses the woman is familiar with will help bring her to her new residence, and it is hoped the allied admission team will not be required in the end.

Ms Hynes also said the woman had originally been reluctant to go to the hospital, and it is hoped that her resistance to the nursing home “might settle” too.

A solicitor for the court-appointed guardian ad litem said the woman wanted to object to any wardship application and wished to return home. The solicitor said the woman has threatened that she would not stay in a nursing home if transferred there. However, it is apparent, the solicitor said, that the diagnosis of dementia is accurate. She said the guardian supports the orders being sought by the HSE.

In granting the orders, Ms Justice Irvine said the situation is “very sad”, as the woman makes it clear that she wants to return to living in the community. However, Ms Justice Irvine said: “All the medical evidence is that she is a significant risk to herself… Her dementia is only going to deteriorate.”

The case will be reviewed in January 2022.

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan is an Irish Times reporter