After 60 years of marriage, guardianship threatened to break Andrew and Caroline.

“Guardianship!” The doctor barked as he turned to a nurse and pointed at Caroline. Caroline realised she had made a mistake. A mistake in assuming that medical professionals were there to help.

Her husband Andrew, previously diagnosed with dementia, had had his medication changed which created side effects that resulted in a fall. Andrew was admitted to hospital to be checked over and she was there to accompany him.

It was determined that Andrew’s return home would necessitate some changes in the house, including equipment to support him and Caroline, a perfectly able person and doting wife, was assessed for her capacity to operate that equipment. The nurses agreed that her response was positive.

Which was why Caroline was shocked when the doctor said that her husband would stay in hospital until a bed in aged care was found.

Andrew was meant to be going home. Why on earth would the doctor do this?

When she questioned the doctor, he chose to respond with intimidation, when she questioned further, the doctor strode away to a nearby nurse, pointed back at Caroline and barked; “Guardianship!”

And with that, the ball was rolling….in the wrong direction for the happiness, dignity and well-being of Andrew and Caroline. Forms were produced dictating that guardianship and administration were necessary because, among other things, Caroline was not capable of making the right decisions for Andrew. The form, drawn up by a social worker at the hospital, made for painful, embarrassing reading and it threatened their life together.

Hurt and in despair, Caroline approached a legal firm, who wouldn’t assist. But through an observant fellow patient, she contacted Dementia Australia who suggested Caroline contact Advocacy Tasmania.

As our advocate worked on the case, she discovered that Caroline had been extremely proactive – she had researched and sourced multiple aids and equipment to allow her to provide care and support to her husband to keep him safe and comfortable at home.

Our advocate attended the Tribunal hearing on behalf of Andrew and Caroline. She provided information that demonstrated that Caroline was more than capable of understanding Andrew’s changing needs. She explained that Andrew’s only hospital admission in recent years was due to the side effects of a change of medication. And that Caroline had been providing all necessary care and support to Andrew since his diagnosis in 2016. Further she had not been afforded the opportunity of accessing formal in-home support.

With this weight of evidence, the Tribunal agreed with our advocate and found there was absolutely no need for a guardian or an administrator.

Andrew was discharged from hospital and has returned home to be together with Caroline.

Too often we see people in need treated with contempt, callousness and without care. But we can help.