High Court hears impact Covid-19 has had on vulnerable

High Court hears impact Covid-19 has had on vulnerable

The impact of and difficulties caused by the Covid-19 crisis regarding the care and management of some of the country's most vulnerable people was highlighted in several cases mentioned before the High Court today.

The cases came before Mr Justice David Keane, who was asked to make various orders in relation to persons, some of whom are deemed at high risk of severe illness or death if they contract the virus, who are either wards of court or in the process of being made wards of court.

None of the individuals in question can be identified for legal reasons.

In one case, involving a man aged in his 80s with dementia that was before the court last week, Mr Justice Keane was told that concerns remain about the man's ability to grasp the risks to himself and others associated with the coronavirus emergency.

The man, who is described as being very pleasant and affable, had difficulties understanding social distancing and that older persons had been advised by the government to stay indoors.

The court heard that despite being advised by a variety of people, including his court-appointed guardian, the man had not complied with court orders confining him to his home and had been reported as going to a local shop twice in the one day.

An independent medical visit will assess the man's man capacity in the coming days and the HSE is seeking to find a suitable place for the man.

The judge, following an application from David Leahy Bl, who acts for a solicitor whom the man had previously given power of attorney to, agreed to extend orders previously granted confining the man to his home.

In another separate case the court was also updated on the condition of a ward of court who suffers from anorexia.

The young woman, who also has an underlying condition, has been treated at a variety of locations in Ireland and the UK.

It was proposed by her doctors that she be admitted to a facility in the UK, where she had previously been treated.

However, due to Covid-19 she cannot return there for the time being.

The judge was told she is self-isolating at home, and there were concerns about her weight falling below 37.5kg. However her situation was being monitored and she was in contact with various medical professionals several times a week, the court was told.

Another case, where consent was sought from the court to operate on a middle-aged woman with the mental capacity of a young child who has breast cancer, heard she was due to have undergone surgery this week.

However, due to the current pressure on hospitals and surgical lists, her procedure has been put back. It is hoped that she will undergo surgery as soon as possible, the court heard.

In another case, a judge was also formally asked by the HSE to approve the transfer of a man, who sustained serious injuries following a road traffic accident, from the hospital he is in to a nursing home which the court heard is Covid-19 free.

The judge, who was told that the virus has been detected in the hospital, approved the transfer.

The judge also approved the transfer of a man with a variety of complex intellectual and psychiatric conditions, including paedophilia, from a secure facility in the South of the country to one in the East of Ireland.

The court was told while the transfer was seen to be in the man's best interests due to the improvements he has been making, his family were objecting on grounds including that the move could result in him contracting the virus.

Mr Justice Keane said he was satisfied from the evidence before the court that the move would be of benefit to the man, where he would be allowed to take part in structured activities that he enjoys.

The judge, noting the family's concerns, said the man was no more at risk from contracting Covid-19 at the new facility than he is at his current location.

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