Posting video of elderly man on social media ‘reprehensible’ - judge

Filming arose from dispute between family members over quality of nursing home care

The judge said it was in noone’s interests, especially the man’s, to have the family disharmony continue and he hoped “common sense” would break out.

The judge said it was in noone’s interests, especially the man’s, to have the family disharmony continue and he hoped “common sense” would break out.

 

The president of the High Court has described as “reprehensible” the posting of a video on social media of an elderly man, a ward of court with advanced dementia, in a nursing home.

The filming of the man, arising from a dispute between family members over the quality of nursing home care he is getting, is a “gross intrusion” on his privacy, Mr Justice Peter Kelly said.

Two family members to whom the man had granted power of attorney before his health deteriorated, the HSE, and a geriatrician, all believe the man is getting good care in the nursing home.

Certain other family members dispute that and want him returned to his own home where some of them are living.

The man is a ward of court and his case was mentioned before Mr Justice Peter Kelly on Monday.

Counsel for the family members who have concerns about the nursing home care said they wanted the court to ask the geriatrician to revisit the man in the nursing home, assess a range of issues raised by her clients, and report back to the court.

Sarah McKechnie BL, for the two family members with powers of attorney, said they and the geriatrician are happy with the nursing home care.

While not objecting to the geriatrician making a further report, her clients are very concerned about the impact of the “relentless” pursuit of a range of issues by other family members on the man living out his remaining days “in peace”, she said. Counsel said the matter had been listed due to concerns about the man having lost weight.

Family disharmony

The nursing home is closely observing the weight loss and had noted such weight loss is frequent in persons with severe dementia. Katherine Kelleher, solicitor for the HSE, said there had been multiple information and data requests, including under FOI legislation, from the dissenting family members of which the HSE was not put on notice.

The HSE is also very concerned that a video had been posted on social media of the man in the nursing home and has been in contact with Facebook about that, she said. In his ruling, the judge said any information requests should go through the HSE’s lawyers.

He said the posting of the video was “reprehensible” and he regarded with “complete disfavour” such actions in relation to elderly and vulnerable people who are wards of court.

The HSE has liberty to bring an application concerning the video if necessary, he said. He said the previous report from the geriatrician, which had expressed satisfaction with the nursing home care, was “clear and unequivocal” and the sides had previously agreed they would be bound by that. The geriatrician, the judge noted, was asked by the court to report on the man’s care, had reported his view the man’s care is satisfactory and that the family disharmony is not advantageous to him. Although the matter had been listed only for mention on this occasion, that had lead to a “flurry” of affidavits from various family members raising several issues, the judge said.

Because there “must be an end” to this litigation, the judge said he would ask the geriatrician to report to the court again on the man’s nursing home situation care and adjourn the matter to October.

It is in noone’s interests, especially the man’s, to have the family disharmony continue and he hoped “common sense” would break out, the judge said. The man would “probably be horrified” this was happening in open court.