Ballerina ruling threatens care of the elderly

A leading judge has said she is "troubled" by the implications of a Supreme Court decision which could lead to vulnerable people being "warehoused" at home "without regard to their quality of life".

The Supreme Court justice Lady Hale was one of five judges ruling on the case of the former ballerina Elaine McDonald who argued that her local authority should continue providing a night-time carer to help her use a commode. Lady Hale disagreed with her colleagues, who ruled against Ms McDonald, and in her written analysis she raised concerns about the implications of the ruling. She said she feared that older people "might be left lying in faeces" because local authorities would be entitled to withdraw their help.

The case was considered an important legal milestone for people who need social care to stay at home, as cash-strapped local authorities reduce services and change their care packages. The campaigning charity Age UK described the ruling as "shameful".

Ms McDonald, 68, a former a star of Scottish Ballet who received an OBE in 1983, was left with reduced mobility after a stroke in September 1999. She was fighting against Kensington and Chelsea's decision to replace her night helper with incontinence pads – even though she is not incontinent.

The local authority argued that 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's appeal, in which she describe the use of the pads as an "intolerable affront to her dignity", was dismissed after four out of five justices ruled in favour of the London borough.

Lady Hale said the case centred on a "really serious question". "Logically, the decision in this case would entitle a local authority to withdraw this help even though the client needed to defecate during the night and thus might be left lying in her faeces until the carers came in the morning," she said.

"In the United Kingdom we do not oblige people who can control their bodily functions to behave as if they cannot do so, unless they themselves find this the more convenient course," she said. "We are, I still believe, a civilised society. I would have allowed this appeal." She added: "The consequences do not bear thinking about."

Lord Brown, one of four judges who ruled in the council's favour, said Lady Hale was an acknowledged expert in social care law but added that he found her analysis "surprising".

Michelle Mitchell, charity director at Age UK, said: "Today's decision is shameful. Care should not be just about keeping people safe. It must enable them to live dignified and fulfilled lives."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face
books
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' is based on historical events
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
filmSir Ian McKellen will play retired detective in new film
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
'Molecular Man +1+1+1' by Jonathan Borofsky at Yorkshire Sculpture park
tv
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Trainee Recruitment Consultants For Multiple UK Offices

    £18000 - £25000 per annum + DOE, OTE £40000: SThree: LONDON - BRISTOL - DUBLIN...

    Embedded Software Engineer - Process Coordinator

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare, Bonus, Holiday : Progressive ...

    Subject Leader of ICT & Computing

    £21588 - £36756 per annum + negotiable: Randstad Education Chelmsford: ICT/Com...

    C# Senior Web developer (C#, VBA, Strong Education,C++, JAVA)

    £40000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Senio...

    Day In a Page

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
    Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

    Hollywood targets Asian audiences

    The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

    Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
    Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

    Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

    Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
    10 best girls' summer dresses

    Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

    Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
    Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

    Westminster’s dark secret

    Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
    Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

    Naked censorship?

    The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
    Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil