Community nurses may increasingly find their patients left to sleep in their own urine after the Supreme Court backed a council decision to deny a stroke patient social care at night.
The court, the highest court in the UK, backed a local authority ruling not to provide night time care to a woman left “practically incontinent” after a stroke, telling her instead to use incontinence pads.
The ruling sparked fears the case would be used as an example to deny more people of care.
Former ballerina Elaine McDonald’s appeal against the Royal London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea was dismissed by a four to one majority in court.
Following a stroke Ms McDonald needs to use the toilet two or three times a night. The council said it would not provide her with a night time care and she should use incontinence pads or special sheeting since it is dangerous for her to use the toilet on her own.
Association for Continence Advice chair Debbie Yarde told Nursing Times she feared the practice could be “widespread”.
“Needing to go to the toilet in the night is a basic human need. There are serious implications for quality of life and dignity,” she said. She warned the case would be “used as an example” by other public bodies to justify similar decisions.
Age UK charity director Michelle Mitchell called the decision “shameful”. She said: “Older people have a fundamental right to dignity and forcing someone to sleep in their own urine and faeces could not be more undignified.
“This judgement opens the door to warehousing older people in their own homes without regard to their quality of life.”