Scenario 9: Ayesha

Ayesha is a lady with mild learning disabilities who lives in a care home. She is the youngest resident by a considerable age and is certainly the fittest and most mobile. She has been placed there because there was no other provision for her support in what is a small and remote Scottish village.

Ayesha has a history of starting fires. She loves the bright colours of the flames. She calls fire the ‘dancing lights.’ Although this has not occurred for over three years, care home staff were instructed by her psychiatrist to routinely search her each time she returned from being out unsupervised, to ensure she did not have matches or a lighter.

Ayesha is increasingly annoyed at having to endure the intrusion of a personal search every time she comes back to the home and her family complain to the manager and staff on her behalf. Their justification is that they are not only following medical advice but that their actions are primarily for the protection of other residents to whom they have a duty of care to ensure that Ayesha does not increase the risk of a fire starting in the home. The manager also suggests that Ayesha might not be allowed out at all if she does not consent to the search upon her return.