Treatment ordered for man who could die due to neglect of personal hygiene

Man with mental health conditions living in appalling squalor, HSE tells court


The President of the High Court has made orders allowing the HSE detain and admit to hospital for medical treatment a disturbed man whose life is at risk from serious neglect of personal hygiene.

The condition of his skin is of such concern it is feared, without treatment, he could develop sepsis and die, the court heard.

The court heard the man suffers from mental health conditions and has spent several years as a patient in psychiatric facilities.

He is prone to violent outbursts and considered a risk to his family, women and vulnerable people, the court was told.

He has been diagnosed as being emotionally unstable and having Factitious Disorder and has told doctors he heard voices in his head telling him to harm others.

He was released from a hospital where he had been a voluntary patient to a facility within the community.

That placement broke down and the man has been living in appalling squalor for some weeks, David Leahy BL, for the HSE, told the court this week.

The man, aged in his fifties and a father of adult children, is now covered in his own urine and faeces, had thrown food all over his residence and was not cleaning himself, counsel said.

On one occasion his carers had to remove and destroy the clothes he had been wearing.

The condition of his skin was of such concern it is feared, without treatment, he would develop sepsis and die.

The man was refusing to cooperate with medical professionals and while he had acknowledged his physical condition was poor he was not accepting treatment and had told his doctors: “If I die, I die.”

The man had been medically assessed by a number of professionals in what was a difficult process, the court heard.

One consultant psychiatrist considered the man appeared to lack capacity to comprehend his poor medical condition.

Mr Leahy said the HSE wanted to bring the man to hospital for treatment but had concerns over his volatile nature and his propensity to violence.

Some years ago, he was convicted of attempting to strangle his wife and, while he was in hospital, had assaulted female nurses attempting to care for him, counsel said. One one occasion he kicked a pregnant female nurse in the groin.

He also engaged in dirty protests when a patient in psychiatric units, counsel added.

Mr Justice Kelly made orders, in the context of intended wardship proceedings, allowing for the man to be taken to hospital for treatment for his medical condition.

The judge said he “did not envy” the task of those who would have to detain, restrain and move the man to hospital, nor the persons who would be responsible for his treatment there.

The judge also appointed a guardian ad litem to represent the man’s interests and directed an independent medical visitor carry out a capacity assessment of him and report to the court in that regard.

The matter will return to court early next month.