But sometimes, the care authorities are placed in a near-impossible situation:
The Court of Protection has ruled that an 18-year-old man with autism and severe learning disabilities who was regularly placed in a padded seclusion room more than six times a day was unlawfully deprived of his liberty.It's a sad story, because, in this case, it seems there's not a whole hell of a lot of alternatives:
Unlike the Neary case, in which all parties had already been publicly named before proceedings began and could therefore be named in the press, the local authority, primary care trust and school involved in C's care cannot be named to protect his identity.The details of the case were made public for the first time yesterday. C was described as a boy who has "aggressive and destructive traits" which put him at risk to both himself and his carers.And not an 'assumed' risk, like Neary, either. This was a genuine, proven risk:
He suffers from a sensory impairment and often chooses to walk around naked because touch is a vital way for him to communicate. He often harms himself and has harmed his carers including one member of staff who suffered a detached retina.What else could they do?
Throughout 2010 C's behaviour deteriorated considerably and care workers came to rely on the blue room more and more often to control his actions.
Still, presumably, if the judge has ruled it unlawful, it must surely be one of those mad cases where the law goes too far, right?
In a ruling in the Court of Protection at the High Court, Mr Justice Ryder described the case as "complex" and "tragic" but ruled that the use of the room was a deprivation of C's liberty and was unlawful because the special needs school had not sought a deprivation of liberty order through the court.If only they'd asked, you see. The court would probably have agreed there was no other alternative.
But they didn't, and so now the lawyers start squabbling over the spoils like the vultures they are...Damages. To come out of the already stretched mental care budget. Imposed for not ensuring all the red tape was correctly tied, with a nice pretty bow, in their attempt to prevent C from damaging others, or himself...
A further hearing to discuss damages and whether further rights were breached will take place at a later date.