In the UK, a man referred to as P, in court proceedings, had lived in his family home for 50 years. He had developed dementia but was still able to make decisions about where he should live. It appears he was coping and I say well done.
Since his sister died in 1988, Fuffy, his cat has been his only companion, we are told. I don’t think Fluffy has been his companion throughout that entire time because it would have made his cat 27-years-of-age, which is possible but unlikely.
This gentleman, an RAF veteran, was forcibly removed from his home and away from his beloved cat into a dementia unit, against his wishes. He remained there for 17 months. He was charged the fees. A judge ruled that the local authority acted illegally and in breach of (a) Article 5 – rights to liberty and security and (b) Article 8 – rights to respect to family life under the European Convention on Human Rights.
In a Court of Protection hearing he was awarded £60,000 damages and the fees for the home were ordered to be waived. The judge was horrified at the behaviour of the local authority.
Throughout the entire 17 month enforced stay at the dementia unit P expressed his desire to go home. A friend came to his rescue by raising the alarm of his ill-treatment at the hands of dogmatic social workers.
What I liked about the story was P’s devoted attachment to his cat Fluffy. This caught my eye. It reinforces what we already know that a cat companion can be a very reliable and life-enhancing friend for many single, elderly people.
I’d have liked to have learned more about the fate of Fluffy. I believe P has been reunited with Fluffy in ‘domiciliary care arrangements’, which I understand to be support from social services while the ‘patient’ lives at home. This was obviously the better arrangement and one that should have been adopted at the outset.
Such an arrangement would have meant the relationship between P and Fluffy could have been maintained. This is a valuable relationship in respect of the welfare of both parties.
When I was a solicitor I occasionally encountered local authority lawyers in family proceedings. I found them to be bullying and rather unpleasant so it does not surprise me that the social workers in this story were high-handed and dictatorial towards a very elderly and vulnerable gentleman who we should have respected far more as a society.
The social workers also ignored the welfare of the cat. I hope and believe that Fluffy was looked after by the friend who raised the alarm but that is a guess. The source story in the Times does not clarify.