Woman with schizophrenia unaware her home was sold, court told

High Court hears vulnerable woman in her 60s wants to return home to apartment

A vulnerable woman aged in her 60s with schizophrenia who wants to return home to live remains unaware her home has been sold by court order, the High Court has heard. File photograph: Brien O’Brien/The Irish Times

A vulnerable woman aged in her 60s with schizophrenia who wants to return home to live remains unaware her home has been sold by court order, the High Court has heard. File photograph: Brien O’Brien/The Irish Times

 

A vulnerable woman aged in her 60s with schizophrenia who wants to return home to live remains unaware her home has been sold by court order, the High Court has heard.

The woman, a ward of court for more than 30 years, was detained in hospital more than four years ago after becoming deeply unwell and experiencing psychosis and is currently in a nursing home located some distance from her home area.

While there is some improvement in her condition, there is little prospect of her living in unsupported accommodation again, the president of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, said on Thursday.

He was told this was because of her condition of schizophrenia, the need for her to stay on medication and her lack of insight into her condition.

The apartment where she had lived was sold by court order about two years ago.

Donal McGuinness BL, for the Health Service Executive (HSE), said the woman is unaware the apartment had been sold.

When counsel suggested telling her about the sale might help her further settle into her nursing home placement, the judge said that would have to be sensitively handled as the sale had happened when she was “very deeply psychotic”.

He was reviewing the position of the woman, who worked for many years, with a view to making decisions about her future care and placement.

The judge consented to Mr McGuinness’s application to put the matter back to next month to allow for more psychiatric reports to be obtained but was critical some matters for this review appeared to have been embarked on at “the last minute”.

“That is not the way this court operates,” he said.

He refused counsel’s additional application to detain the woman in the nursing home in the interim, saying his order would instead note she would reside there. He also directed that all steps be taken which are considered necessary in the woman’s best interests and welfare.

Mr McGuinness had said if the woman is not detained and not taking her medication, there is a risk she will revert to a psychotic state.

David Leahy BL, representing the woman’s interests, said she appears to have settled well in the nursing home, her challenging behaviour has reduced but she has “good days and bad days”.

The judge noted her main wish was to return home and a distant second option was to be in a nursing home close to her home area.

The judge said he did not consider that a detention order, as opposed to an order for residence, was necessary, because the woman seems to have made progress in the nursing home, is taking part in outings and is not seeking, as of now, to leave.

He was told two other nursing homes closer to her home area had been approached but were not available for reasons including the woman’s challenging behaviour and because one would involve her sharing a room.

As of now, the judge said, the only nursing home available is the existing one, but he would further review the matter next month when updated psychiatric reports are available.