The Court of Protection has authorised the removal of a 19 year-old man with learning difficulties from his current care home.
The teenager, referred to in the judgement as ‘PL’, had “complex needs”. He was unable to speak, only using whistles and vocalisations, and he suffered from both autism and a “severe” learning disability, making him incapable of participating in the proceedings.
District Judge Bellamy described his day-to-day life in an adult residential home in Lincoln:
“He has a number of sensory needs and has access to a sensory room and other equipment at his current residence. He has no awareness of risk and can exhibit some challenging behaviours that present a risk to him and others, such as pushing, grabbing and biting.”
But the home eventually served notice on the young man’s family, stating that he would have to leave due to:
“…the unrelenting pressures and intense challenges that our service including its staff and residents have been subjected to by PL’s mother throughout PL’s placement.”
Despite these difficulties, the home continued to accommodate PL while decisions were made regarding his future. Dorset County Council applied to the Court of Protection, seeking permission to move PL to an alternative home, also in Lincolnshire. They also sought a declaration that visits from his mother be limited to “restricted and supervised contact” outside the new residential home, in order to minimise the risk of similar problems recurring.
PL’s father did not directly participate in the proceedings but supported the proposed move to a new care home. He visited his son on a monthly basis.
The Judge, meanwhile, expressed sympathy for PL’s mother, referred to in his judgement as ‘AL’.
“There can be no doubt that AL loves and cares for her son very much and her sole reason not only in relation to these proceedings but in relation to her involvement with BH was to ensure that PL receives the best possible care and support and understanding of his needs.”
“The court can well understand the frustration of a mother who has spent some nineteen years bringing up, caring for and visiting her son with whom she has a special relationship when she perceives others charged with his care may not be discharging those functions in necessarily the same way that she would.”
Nevertheless, after examining reports from social workers outlining the difficulties AL caused the care home staff, he concluded that “the arguments for contact taking place off-site are compelling”, and said such an arrangement could save PL the disruption and trauma of being forced to move to a third care home.
District Judge Bellamy authorised the authority’s plans, stating that the move would be in PL’s best interests, and limiting visits from his mother to two hours per week at a location away from the home. There would be no contact at all for an initial six weeks, in order to allow PL to settle into his new surroundings.
The Court of Protection makes judgements on the behalf of people unable to make their own decisions because they are disabled or have developed an illness such as dementia.
Re PL is available to read here.