Supporting individuals in crisis

Helping the courts understand hoarding disorder
We act for many people who lack mental capacity. But Mrs K’s behaviour made this case unusually challenging.

When does having a lot of possessions in your house become hoarding? And when is it a safety concern? There isn’t much case law around hoarding, and it’s debatable whether it should be classed as a mental disorder at all.

 

Mrs K had lost her husband and fell into a depression. Since her loss, her hoarding escalated, and neighbours and family had voiced their concerns to social services for a number of years. Eventually, the local authority made the decision to remove her from her home.

 

We were asked by the litigation friend, the Official Solicitor in Court of Protection proceedings, to represent Mrs K. She had been detained under the Mental Health Act. When she was discharged, the local authority wanted to prevent her from returning home, so needed the court to make welfare orders.

 

Consulting a hoarding expert

When the Anthony Collins Solicitors (ACS) team visited her in the care home, where she had been temporarily placed, it was clear she didn’t want to be there. She couldn’t weigh up the pros and cons of her situation and couldn’t understand why there was a problem.

 

Without our representation, the local authority were going to make decisions without understanding her hoarding disorder. To support her case, we called upon an expert in hoarding disorders. This expert identified medication issues could be causing psychotic symptoms and resulting in lack of capacity.

 

The local authority also made an application to be appointed as financial deputy. We had concerns about their proposals so suggested that a deputy at ACS, Donna Holmes, should be appointed instead. This meant we would be able to act in Mrs K’s best interests.

 

The fight for people’s freedom

After contracting Covid-19 in December, Mrs K’s health deteriorated quickly and she sadly passed away before getting the chance to move back home. However, our involvement meant her wishes and feelings were heard by the court and remained the focus of the proceedings.


Kirsty MacMillan, ACS associate, says;

"I love my job. We act for people where all these services have come in and disrupted their lives. They’ve taken their freedom away – potentially moving them out their home or stopping them from seeing people. Going into these cases you’re fighting for individuals to have their best life. And often, we have very positive outcomes. These people are understood and not forgotten"
Kirsty MacMillan, associate at ACS

Contact

Kirsty MacMillan
kirsty.macmillan@anthonycollins.com
0121 214 3728
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