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Care and contact restrictions – COVID 19

The recent judgment in BP v Surrey County Council & Anor [2020] EWCOP17 addressed the issue of contact with a person in a residential setting during the COVID-19 lockdown.

BP is an 83 year old man with Alzheimer’s who is deaf and uses a communication board to communicate. He currently resides in a Care Home. In light of the current Coronavirus pandemic, the Care Home decided to suspend all future visits to the Care Home by both family members and professionals.

There were ongoing concerns, prior to lockdown, as to whether BP had capacity to make decisions in relation to his residence and whether it would be in BP’s best interest to return home with a package of care. As a result an assessor was due to assess BP at the Care Home. As a consequence of lockdown the Court had to consider whether it would be in BP’s best interest to live with his daughter pending completion of said  mental capacity assessment.

It was argued on BP’s behalf that a restriction on all visits to the Care Home breached BP’s rights under Article 5 (right to Liberty) and Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life). Prior to the coronavirus lockdown, BP was a very popular man and family and friends visited him every day if not twice a day. Remote contact arrangements are being explored in care home settings however as BP is deaf and uses a communication board, ordinary alternatives such as telephone calls, Facetime and skype could not be facilitated. As the judgment comments “It is entirely acknowledged that in BP’s particular case the contemplated interference with that right (right to family life) is further aggravated by his deafness”.

BP’s daughter argued that her father should remain at the care home with contact arrangement or he could live with her– the daughter began self-isolating in preparation to provide care to her father. The Court of Protection needed to establish whether it was in BP’s best interest to remain in the care home.

The Judge found that living with BP’s daughter would be unrealistic as he needed to be watched vigilantly at all times and would require twenty four hour care which the daughter could not provide alone despite her best intentions.

The Judge held that

  • the Mental Capacity assessment could be conducted remotely but BP needed to be properly prepared and supported by staff and his family;
  • BP would be educated to use Skype with creative use of his communication board and exploring the option of messaging;
  • BP’s family were, by arrangement, allowed to go to BP’s bedroom window to wave to him and use the communication board.

If you are concerned about a loved one in a care setting, please contact our team on 01926 354704 for guidance and support.

Charlotte Bell



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