This was a section 21A application, though the sole issue was not whether it was in MR’s best interests to return home but whether he should remain at CC Nursing Home or move to a Jewish care home, such as the T Care Home or S Nursing Home.
MR has dementia. He was discharged from hospital to CC Nursing Home during the first stage of the Covid pandemic and is subject to a deprivation of liberty order.
MR’s family members had opposing views as to what was in MR’s best interests. The Applicant local authority and the Official Solicitor on MR’s behalf believed it was in MR’s best interests to remain where he was. All parties agreed that MR lacked capacity to decide where he should live.
In order to decide what was in MR’s best interests, District Judge Eldergill concluded that he had to have regard to MR’s wishes, feelings, beliefs and values; the beliefs and values that would be likely to influence his decision if he had capacity; the other factors that he would be likely to consider if he were able to do so; the views of family members, professionals, non-professional carers and anyone interested in his welfare; and any and all other relevant considerations.
Medical experts were of the opinion that a move to another care home carried a higher risk of mortality, particularly within the first few months of relocation. Furthermore, MR was content at CC Nursing Home – staff had developed a rapport with him and he was well cared for there with regard to his physical and mental health. District Judge Eldergill therefore had to consider how important living in a Jewish care home was to MR, and whether the benefits of a transfer outweighed the higher risk of mortality and the serious risk of a deterioration in his health.
Evidence supported findings that MR was a devoted and committed member of his synagogue and Jewish community over many years, and that he placed a high value on this. However, observations of nursing home staff indicated that there were significant limits to MR’s intellectual capacity to understand religious and cultural traditions and practices, and limits to the extent to which he could assimilate and become part of a community.
Balancing all the evidence, District Judge Eldergill concluded that it was in MR’s best interests to move to T Care Home as soon as practicable, stating “it is likely that he will benefit from the familiar religious and communal activities at T Care Home, although he would be unable to put into words why it pleases him. This gives him the best opportunity to enjoy or gain satisfaction from what life is left to him and the likely benefits outweigh the likely risks.”
The full judgement can be read here
If you have any questions regarding this summary case law please contact Julie Fitzpatrick here