Retired clerk in care home should see husband before Christmas, judge told

A retired council clerk who has brain damage and is at the centre of a legal dispute over care home visits during the coronavirus pandemic should be able to “physically and in person” see her husband before Christmas, a judge has been told.

Retired academic Dr John Davies has taken legal action on his wife Michelle’s behalf in a bid to ensure she gets visits tailored to her needs.

Dr Davies, 60, of Wigan, Greater Manchester, says Mrs Davies, 58, should not be subject to a blanket visiting policy.

He wants a judge to rule that Mrs Davies, a former council clerk who had a stroke in late 2018, should have daily “face-to-face contact” with him and their son Kane, 33.

Mr Justice Hayden is overseeing the case at hearings in the Court of Protection, where issues relating to people who do not have the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves are considered.

Care home visits
Michelle Davies with husband John (Handout/PA)

The judge, who has heard that the couple have been married for 37 years, was told of developments at a virtual hearing on Friday.

A barrister leading the family’s legal team indicated that discussions had taken place and said care home bosses were trying to ensure that Dr and Mrs Davies, and their son, would be able to meet before Christmas.

“The care home is attempting to ensure that (Dr Davies) will see his wife, physically and in person, before Christmas,” said Lorraine Cavanagh QC.

“We are still unclear as to the extent of physical contact.”

She said kisses might not be “appropriate” but a hug may be possible.

The judge was told that visitors would have to be tested, and wear protective clothing, before entering the care home.

Dr Davies told the judge: “I am glad that we seem to be making some progress.”

He indicated that Mrs Davies had recently been getting “window visits” which had “helped a lot”.

Mr Justice Hayden is scheduled to reconsider the case in the New Year.

Care home visits
The Court of Protection and Central Family Court (Nick Ansell/PA)

Dr Davies has taken legal action against Wigan Council and Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group, authorities with responsibility for her care, and wants staff to carry out “bespoke” risk assessments which will allow people to visit loved ones in care homes, while “maintaining Covid-19 protocols”.

He had earlier told of his heartbreak at not being allowed to have “any meaningful contact” with his wife for the past eight months.

Dr Davies said he was aware of the danger that coronavirus posed but wanted a “common sense approach”.

But he said he thought that being denied the “involvement of family and friends” had “hindered” Mrs Davies’s progress significantly.

Solicitor Mathieu Culverhouse, who represents the family and is based at law firm Irwin Mitchell, said, after Friday’s hearing: “Today is a major step forward in John being able to have contact with Michelle.”

He added: “We’re continuing to work constructively with the council and clinical commissioning group towards ensuring that John has the best possible quality of contact with Michelle in the run up to Christmas, whilst balancing this against the need to comply with the relevant government guidance and to minimise the risks of infection.”

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