Wigan academic's legal fight to allow face-to-face contact with wife in care home every day

A Wigan academic whose wife is in a care home has begun a legal fight in a bid to ensure she gets visits tailored to her needs during the coronavirus pandemic.
Wigan town hallWigan town hall
Wigan town hall

John Davies, 60, of Wigan, Greater Manchester, says his wife Michelle, 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 and has brain damage, should have daily "face-to-face contact" with him and their son Kane, 33.

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Lawyers instructed by Mr Davies have taken legal action against Wigan Council, which has responsibilities for her care regime, on behalf of Mrs Davies.

They told Mr Justice Hayden that blanket visiting policies had caused "personal desolation" and said the case could affect thousands of people.

The judge oversaw a preliminary virtual hearing on Monday in the Court of Protection, where issues relating to people who do not have the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves.

He said the application was "difficult" and posed "challenging issues".

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"This case is a paradigm example of the personal desolation caused by the application of blanket visiting policies to individuals residing in care homes during the public health pandemic of Covid-19," said Lorraine Cavanagh QC, leading Mrs Davies's legal team.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has required priority to be given to public health imperatives.

"Throughout this pandemic there has been a failure at all levels of Government to recognise the central role that close family members play in the care of their vulnerable loved ones living in care homes, and provide for mechanisms for that care to continue throughout the public health emergency, we submit."

Judges normally bar people at the centre of Court of Protection cases from being identified in media reports, to protect their right to respect for private life.

But Mr Justice Hayden ruled Mrs Davies could be named.

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Mr Davies told him his wife would have wanted to be named if she was able to make the decision.

He said she would want to help as many people as possible and would have realised that the case would generate more publicity if she was named.

The judge said the care home where Mrs Davies was living could not be named.

A spokesperson for Wigan Council said: “As this is an ongoing case, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further on this individual matter.”