Saturday 3 December 2016

Judge directs gardai to arrest and detain woman who has acquired brain injury following concerns she is at risk

Published 28/07/2015 | 18:18

While the woman did not wish to return to the brain injury unit, it may represent the most appropriate option for her, a social worker said.
While the woman did not wish to return to the brain injury unit, it may represent the most appropriate option for her, a social worker said.

A HIGH Court judge has directed gardai to arrest and detain a woman – who has acquired brain injury and is a ward of court - following concerns she is at risk.

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The arrest order was sought by the HSE for the purposes of detaining the woman, aged in her thirties, in hospital while her care needs are assessed.

The HSE's concerns include that after the woman went missing previously from a sister's home, she was found by gardai in the home of a drug user and dealer, who has a number of convictions.

Her family feared she may have taken heroin and considerable amounts of alcohol, larger amounts of her medication than prescribed, and perhaps sold her mobile phone and computer for a fraction of their cost.

The arrest order was sought today by Nuala Egan BL, for the HSE, who said it wanted the woman assessed over a four day period at a hospital for the purpose of preparing an up to date plan to address her needs.

In court documents, a social worker said a current arrangement under which the woman's care is divided between her family and a brain injury residential unit may no longer be appropriate given the concerns about her going missing.

The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, said he would make the arrest and detention order sought but was anxious to guard against any indefinite detention and would return the matter to early August.

According to court documents, the woman was made a ward of court after suffering significant brain injuries in a road accident in the late 1990s.

It was state she had lived in a specialist unit for persons with brain injury for a number of years except for brief periods when placed in a hospital psychiatrtic unit.

A social worker said the woman appeared to be doing well in the brain injury unit but left there unexpectedly when one of her sisters called to her one day last month.

The HSE made extensive inquiries about her whereabouts but remained unaware of those until about July 1 when her sisters told it she was in their custody.

The social worker said the sisters later agreed to bring the woman to a hospital or assessment but did not actually do so.

That led to the HSE securing a court order early this month for the woman's arrest for assessment of need.

After that assessment, it was agreed a system of shared care between her family and the brain injury unit would be put in place.

The social worker said the woman last week left her sister's home, where she was living under the agreement, and was gone for three days before gardai found her in a house of the drug dealer and returned her to her sister's home.

The HSE was very concerned for her well-being and asked her sisters to bring her to a local hospital for an up to date assessment but they refused.

It was "vital" the assessment be carried out to determine what, if any drugs, the woman consumed while missing and to prepare, in light of her departure from her sister's home, an up to date plan for her future care.

While the woman did not wish to return to the brain injury unit, it may represent the most appropriate option for her, the social worker added.

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