Elderly man living in 'squalid and dangerous' conditions to go to nursing home, court orders

An elderly man living in “squalid and dangerous” conditions in a pigeon infested house with a damaged roof, boarded up windows and no electricity or toilet facilities is to go to a nursing home nearby under interim High Court orders.

The man will not be confined to the nursing home, his freedom will not be inhibited and the intention is only to ensure he has somewhere where he can eat, wash and sleep at night in clean and warm conditions without pigeons as “his nearest neighbours”, the president of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, said.

The orders apply pending an inquiry as to whether the man, aged in his seventies, should be made a ward of court.

He objects to wardship but his court-appointed guardian said he appears willing, at present, to consider residing in the nursing home as long as he is not confined to it.

He is anxious to continue to be free to attend church and visit various public facilities, including the library, she said. He avails of public facilities to wash and toilet in during the day and uses bottles and other receptacles in his home at night, the court heard.

A consultant psychiatrist who assessed the man at the court’s request has expressed the view he lacks the necessary capacity to make decisions about his personal welfare and finances.

On Friday, Paul Brady BL, for the HSE, said an authorised officer for the mental health services had concluded he does not require inpatient hospital admission and considered he has primary care needs which are social in nature.

The judge said the man is entitled to time to try and procure a medical report supporting his objections to wardship. If found to have capacity, he could live in such conditions as he chooses.

The wardship inquiry was adjourned for two weeks to enable reports be provided and allow the man attend court, if he wishes.

Mark O’Connell BL, for a relative whom the court heard is trusted by the man, said he was anxious the man’s right to object is respected but, given the evidence of the man’s health and living conditions, the relative supports wardship.

In the interim, the judge said, as of now, the court had before it a report expressing the view the man lack capacity.

That report caused “considerable concern” because it described living conditions that were “squalid, awful and dangerous”. It said the man’s large home looks derelict from outside, is dilapidated inside and in a state of squalor, full of detritus and rubbish. The roof was damaged and open to the elements, there was no heating, electricity, functioning toilet, sink or cooker.

The man slept in filthy bedding on the floor with no mattress close to a broken window. The house was pigeon infested and while the man denied there were rodents, the doctor considered there was a “high risk” of those. The man’s diet was poor and he was mistrustful of health and other services.

In evidence, a social worker said the man told her he did not really object to the nursing  home but asked, if he was a ward, would he be confined there. He was very aware of the state of his home but was very attached to it, having lived there all his life.

In his ruling, the judge said he was anxious to introduce some certainty because the man had in the past shown some propensity to change his mind. He made interim orders for him to reside in the nursing home with no restriction on his outings but he was to comply with requirements concerning attending meals and being in at night at a reasonable hour.

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