Dementia campaigner given permission to move back home
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Health and also in Communities, Legal
A judge has allowed a dementia campaigner, who is now suffering with the illness herself, to move back into her own home.
The Court of Protection ruled Manuela Sykes could undertake a trial period of home-based care rather than being kept in a care home against her wishes.
In a rare decision to allow the name of the parties to be made known, the judge held that there was a "clear public benefit" in naming Ms Sykes and her local authority, Westminster City Council, recognising that Ms Sykes "has never lacked courage or a willingness to place herself at the centre of public debate and attention".
Ms Sykes suffers from dementia which leaves her with a poor short term memory and needing assistance with all aspects of her personal care despite being intelligent and articulate about her wishes.
Following concerns about her behaviour and self-neglect she was admitted into hospital before being transferred to a residential care home, where she currently resides.
Throughout her stay, Ms Sykes has objected strongly to being there. She constantly and forcefully expresses a desire to be back at her home, and has at times threatened self-harm.
Westminster City Council took the view that it would be unsafe for her to return home but it is widely understood that despite lacking the capacity to make the decision herself, Ms Sykes would rather live at home than in full-time care.
The council also said that it would not fund the cost of a home care package to the extent that it exceeds the cost of the care home placement.
District Judge Eldergill said that in his view “it is in her best interests to attempt a one-month trial of home-based care.” He suggested that cleaners and carers could enter the flat while she was out to minimise the contact with her and reduce any risks of face-to-face conflict.
Allowing her to return home, the judge noted that Ms Sykes has lived a "dramatic life" describing her as "a fighter, a campaigner, a person of passion" and recognising that she had "played a part in many of the moral, political and ideological battles of the twentieth century".
The 89-year-old was a Labour councillor in the early 1970s, and narrowly lost a bid for a seat in parliament. She held positions on the social services and management services committees towards the end of her time as a councillor. She has also campaigned extensively for better care for dementia sufferers, particularly older women.
Anne-Marie Irwin, a specialist Court of Protection lawyer instructed to represent Ms Sykes interests by one of her close friends, said: “Manuela is firmly of the view that with the right kind of care package, she could be supported to return home safely.
“Although the kindness of her carers was praised, Manuela was miserable at the care home, and we asked the court to consider if it is truly in her best interests to remain deprived of her liberty. The court was asked on her behalf - what is the point of being kept safe, when to do so is also making you miserable?
“The judge today noted her living will, made when she had capacity, which showed that she prioritised quality of life over prolonging life. He pointed out that as an 89-year-old this may be her last chance to live in her own home – something she wished to do for as long as possible.
“We are confident that with specialist dementia carers Ms Sykes can greatly benefit from returning to her own home.”