Judge orders assessment on elderly man living in 'truly squalid' conditions

By Ann O'Louglin

The President of the High Court has ordered an assessment of the mental capacity of a man, aged in his seventies, who is living alone in “truly squalid” conditions.

Arising from concerns expressed by the man’s family, social workers and community about his psychiatric condition and living circumstances, the man is to be assessed by a consultant psychiatrist with a view to deciding whether he should be made a ward of court.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly.

Because he resisted assessments in the past, Mr Justice Peter Kelly granted an application by the HSE for the man, if necessary, to be removed from his home by gardaí for the purpose of having the assessment carried out.

Mark O’Connell BL, for a relative of the man, said he is “eccentric” but his resistance to an assessment may have reduced. The man had recently told the relative: “I cannot deal with this any more.”

Alan Brady BL, for the HSE, said the man is intelligent and articulate but while a previous assessment indicated he had capacity, the indications are otherwise and his family, social workers and others in the community believe he cannot manage his affairs.

Mr Justice Kelly said the evidence was that the man is in poor health and is living in “truly squalid” conditions in a property in a state of disrepair and full of dirt, debris and old furniture.

The HSE and the man’s family are concerned he no longer has the capacity to make decisions concerning his welfare and finances and, as a result, his life and health may be in danger.

In the circumstances, the court would appoint a consultant psychiatrist to assess him in relation to capacity and report to the court, he said.

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