Court of Protection Allows Dementia Campaigner To Go Home

Specialist Court of Protection Lawyers Represent Former Labour Councillor

25.02.2014

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

A leading dementia campaigner, now suffering with the illness herself, will be allowed to move back to her own house after the Court of Protection ruled that she could undertake a trial period of home-based care rather than being kept in a care home against her wishes.

In a rare decision to allow the name of the parties to be made known, the Judge held that there was ‘clear public benefit’ in naming Manuela Sykes and the local authority, Westminster City Council, recognising that Ms Sykes ‘has never lacked courage or a willingness to place herself at the centre of public debate and attention.’

Ms Sykes suffers from dementia which leaves her with a poor short term memory and  needing assistance with all aspects of her personal care despite being intelligent and articulate about her wishes. 

Following concerns about her behaviour and self-neglect she was admitted into hospital before being transferred to a residential care home, where she currently resides.  Throughout her stay, Manuela has objected strongly to being there.  She constantly and forcefully expresses a desire to be back at her home, and at times, she has threatened self-harm.

Her local authority, Westminster City Council, took the view that it would be unsafe for her to return home but it is widely understood that despite lacking the capacity to make the decision herself, Manuela would rather live at home than in full-time care. Westminster also said that it would not fund the cost of a home care package to the extent that it exceeds the cost of the care home placement.

Specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell represented Manuela in the Court of Protection and asked the judge to consider whether it is in Ms Sykes’ best interests to be deprived of her liberty at the residential home.

Today District Judge Eldergill said that in his view “it is in her best interests to attempt a one-month trial of home-based care.” He suggested that cleaners and carers could enter the flat while she was out to minimise the contact with her and reduce any risks of face-to-face conflict.

He also referred to her Lasting Power of Attorney in which she specifically states “my wish is to remain in my own property for as long as this is feasible”.

Allowing her to return home, the Judge noted that Ms Sykes has lived a ‘dramatic life’ describing her as ‘a fighter, a campaigner, a person of passion’ and recognising that she had ‘played a part in many of the moral, political and ideological battles of the twentieth century.’ The 89 year-old was a Labour councillor in the early 1970s, narrowly lost a bid for a seat in parliament, and held positions on the Social Services and Management Services committees towards the end of her time as a councillor. She has also campaigned extensively for better care for dementia sufferers, particularly older women.

Anne-Marie Irwin, a specialist Court of Protection lawyer at Irwin Mitchell instructed to represent Ms Sykes interests by one of her close friends, said: 

Expert Opinion
Manuela is firmly of the view that with the right kind of care package, she could be supported to return home safely.

“Although the kindness of her carers was praised, Manuela was miserable at the care home, and we asked the court to consider if it is truly in her best interests to remain deprived of her liberty. The court was asked on her behalf - what is the point of being kept safe, when to do so is also making you miserable?

“The judge today noted her living will, made when she had capacity, which showed that she prioritised quality of life over prolonging life. He pointed out that as an 89-year-old this may be her last chance to live in her own home – something she wished to do for as long as possible.

“We are confident that with specialist dementia carers Ms Sykes can greatly benefit from returning to her own home.”
Anne-Marie Irwin, Associate

 
Ms Sykes, her litigation friend and lawyers at Irwin Mitchell will now work with the local authority to arrange the home-based care trial.

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in Protecting Your Rights.