62 year old ‘lacks capacity’ to make decisions about her welfare

Family Law|August 12th 2014

A 62 year old woman diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia has been ruled incapable of making decisions regarding her welfare.

The London Borough of Islington made an application to terminate the woman’s tenancy in a property they own and move her to a 24 hour care facility.

The woman, identified as ‘QR’ in the judgment, did not accept her diagnoses of paranoid schizophrenia, acute dehydration or renal failure.

She had a history of mental illness. In 1995 she had her first breakdown and was admitted to hospital under Section 2 of the Mental Health Act 1983.

This states that someone can be detained for assessment if they are “suffering from a mental disorder” severe enough to warrant hospital admission.

Once discharged, QR refused all medication and rehabilitation. She was in and out of hospital for mental health reasons over the next few years.

After a fall in her flat which broke her arm, QR was sent to a treatment facility under a community treatment order. This is a court order which says a patient with a mental disorder can be detained for medical treatment if such an action is supported by a mental health professional in writing.

Despite remaining in the facility, QR still retained her tenancy agreement. This led the council to seek its termination.

Before that could be decided, District Judge Batten had to rule on her ability to make decisions regarding her welfare. He cited the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

Under the Act, a person cannot be ruled to be “unable to make a decision” simply because they have made an unwise choice, like the refusal of medical treatment. They can be ruled as such if they have “an impairment of, or a disturbance in the functioning of, the mind or brain”.

After all the evidence from various medical and mental health professionals had been presented, the judge ruled that QR’s various delusions made her unable to fully understand the consequences of the decisions that needed to be made.

He also ruled that while she may suffer delusions regarding her health, she did have the “capacity to litigate”, should she choose to do so.

The judge added that a further hearing was to be held so “a best interests decision on the issues before the court can be made” regarding QR’s tenancy agreement.

To read the full judgment, click here.

Author: Stowe Family Law

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