Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Supreme Court judgement could lead to elderly being 'warehoused'


A leading judge today said she was “troubled” by the implications of a Supreme Court decision which campaigners say could lead to the elderly being “warehoused” at home “without regard to their quality of life”.

Supreme Court justice Lady Hale - a member of the five-strong judges’ panel which made the ruling - told of her fears that older people “might be left lying in faeces” because local authorities would be entitled to withdraw help.

Campaigning charity Age UK described the ruling as “shameful” and suggested that it could lead to the infirm being forced to “sleep in their own urine”.

Lady Hale and four other Supreme Court justices had been asked to rule on a case in which a 68-year-old stroke victim argued that a council should provide a night-time carer to help her use a commode at her London flat rather than merely supply her with incontinence pads.

Four justices ruled in favour of the Royal London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and former ballerina Elaine McDonald’s appeal was dismissed by a 4 - 1 majority.

Lady Hale disagreed with her colleagues and said she would have allowed the appeal. In her written analysis she raised concerns about the implications of the ruling.

The Supreme Court, which sits in London and is the UK’s highest court, was ruling on the latest round of Ms McDonald’s legal fight. The High Court and Court of Appeal had earlier ruled in the council’s favour.

Judges heard that Ms McDonald, who was once a star of Scottish Ballet and received the OBE in 1983, was left with reduced mobility after a stroke in September 1999.

She had argued that the care package she received from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea should include assistance at night to use a commode.

The council said Ms McDonald should use incontinence pads or absorbent sheets - even though she is not incontinent - at night.

Bosses said incontinence pads would reduce the risk of Ms McDonald being hurt using a commode, provide independence and privacy and cut the cost of her care by £22,000 a year.

Ms McDonald said she was “appalled” at the thought of being “treated as incontinent” and considered the use of incontinence pads an “intolerable affront to her dignity”.


Readers' comments (4)

  • and where duz patents choice come in with this " is it sorry luv just piss your pants and we will attend to your pressure areas as and when thay arise or wait until you fall and let the nearest hospital take the bill oh dear! penny pinching councils again i fell sorry for the poor sole who dont want simpathy just dignity

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • anyone remember the recent story about literacy and numeracy testing?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment


    i am appalled that this lady is being treated this way ,this is a form of abuse. although not incontinant at present she soon will be as her body will give in to the

    " conditioning"

    forced by the authorities who refuse to allow her an assitant to pass urine and feaces in the normal manner . Something is very wrong here

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I really do not believe this is something we should pay £22,000 a year for.

    This lady chooses to live independently, it is her choice to do this despite knowing the consequences. It is ridiculous to suggest this money should be spent just in case she needs to use the loo overnight, it has already been stated that she is continent, having a pad for an "emergency" will no render her incontinent. In some nursing homes patients have to endure a restriction on the number of pads they have for their incontinence and would welcome a pad or two. (Not in any way shape or form condoning this terrible restriction of pads.)

    If the lady was not a famous ballerina living in a very expensive area of London, I do not feel she would have had the same amount of sympathy. If it were my elderly friend Mabel, from down the everyday street, she would have accepted that this was an unacceptable strain on already tight resources and accepted the consequences of choosing to live on her own, or looked to where she could either provide the support herself, or from a suitable community care home.
    This story also highlights the problems with our society, not that we are left to have a pad cos we cannot use the loo independently, but that we ARE alone as we age. We have been led to believe that independence is the most important achievement, where the sad reality is that we are societal creatures for good reasons, we need each other.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs