When wishes and feelings change: A s.21A case but the applicant is now happy with where she lives

By Joanna Booth, 16 November 2022

The case I observed on 10 November 2022 (COP 13966522) was heard before Deputy District Judge Sophy Miles.

A woman, SB, is in a care home waiting for dementia and occupational therapy assessment. Her age was not mentioned. 

She’s been deprived of her liberty since 27 February 2020. 

When first visited by a social worker, P was raising concerns about the location of her placement. The details of the concerns were not mentioned at the hearing, but they had led to a s.21A application.

A request had been made by SB’s brother and sister-in-law to have her moved closer to them. They had identified a care home, which they were familiar with and had friends there. It was within walking distance from their home. 

A roundtable meeting was meant to have taken place between the parties before the hearing, but it didn’t happen because of problems on the side of the respondent local authority. The person dealing with the case was on leave. The original solicitor for the respondent had been ill and a replacement had stepped in at the last minute. The local authority had also not provided a position statement for this hearing

By the time of the social worker’s second visit,  on 29th September 2022, to assess SB’s wishes and feelings, SB’s views had changed. 

When the social care worker arrived, SB was sitting in her wheelchair, wearing leggings, a pink top and a cardigan. She commented on the social care worker’s attire that it was a horrible colour.

According to the attendance note report:

SB understood that the social care worker was there to help her and decide on her future. She wanted to stay at the care home she was in. She liked the staff. She said about her brother and sister-in-law, “I don’t want to be tiresome to them. [Brother] calls me all the time. If I moved close to them, they’d feel as if they had to visit all the time. The staff are lovely to me. Why would I want to leave? 

Her room was clean. Her brother and sister-in-law hadn’t visited but they called all the time.

Apparently, her legs and arms were getting worse. We weren’t told what condition she was in physically at all. But she said that she needed more PIP and an electric wheelchair. 

She could do art, which she really loved.

The judge asked if the attendance note was in the bundle. It was not but was being placed there during the hearing. 

Neither SB nor her family members were present at the hearing. No witness statement had yet been sent in by SB’s family. 

The judge noted that the matter had been brought appropriately before the court but the situation seems to have changed since SB now seems to want to stay where she is. The brother and sister-in-law said they had a care home within walking distance and were familiar with it because they already visited friends there.

The judge directed that the family members be asked to consider how visits to SB might conflict with their schedules.

SB’s desires had apparently changed. From what I understood, she had originally wanted to be moved but now she doesn’t anymore. 

Orders by the judge

The judge made the following orders and  directions at this hearing:

  • A transparency order protecting SB’s identity in the standard terms.  (I have subsequently received it, after chasing!)
  • A roundtable meeting to take place in the week beginning January 9th 2023. Hopefully with SB in attendance.
  • The relevant NHS trust had not yet provided the report it was supposed to under s.49 MCA (see, “What is a Section 49 report”). They weren’t even sure yet as to who was meant to provide it, apparently. An order was made for this to be provided later in December.
  • Two updates on referrals had yet to be fulfilled: 1) referral for a brain scan for dementia; 2) referral to occupational therapy, which was particularly important considering what SB had said about her arms and legs getting worse. 
  • A report on the availability of care homes near SB’s brother; and the activities each care home provides since SB had said she loved doing art at her current care home. 

The next hearing is listed for 30 January 2023 at 10.30 am.

Joanna Booth is a freelance journalist who writes at joannab.substack.com. She studied law, politics, and social research methods, and worked for years as a social researcher in higher education organisations. She now works as a journalist, and is working towards a PhD by publication on local media and political participation. She tweets @stillawake

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