in the back
A case of Barking madness
Social care, Issue 1474
laki-kaur.jpg
Laki Kaur, made homeless while in hospital, is fighting to preserve her ‘independence and dignity
WHILE young, vivacious and disabled Laki Kaur lay critically ill in an east London hospital, she was scandalously evicted from her specialist housing – shortly after she had made a complaint of abuse against a care worker.

Now recovered from the septicaemia that had seen her rushed into intensive care, she remains stuck in King George hospital – a reluctant “bed-blocker” thanks to the government’s failure to invest in social care and suitable accommodation.

Laki, 28, has severe spinal muscular atrophy, a degenerative condition affecting the nervous system, which means she needs help with most everyday tasks, including washing, toileting, turning in bed, and hoisting into her adapted wheelchair. “I am fiercely mentally independent, but my body doesn’t want to work with me,” she says. Until a previous hospital admission a year ago she was, with support, working as a hotel receptionist.

Notice to leave
Although it was far from ideal, Laki had been living with her three cats (now being looked after by a friend) in shared flats in Barking provided by Sahara Parkside, which was providing round-the-clock care. (Sahara Parkside is now in special measures after Care Quality Commission inspectors rated it “inadequate” in February.) The accommodation was a long way short of the two-bed flat she requires for herself and a personal assistant to allow her to live privately, with dignity and independently – as she maintains is her right under article 19 of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

In April she was served with a notice to leave – shortly after she complained about one care worker, who she says was physically and verbally abusive towards her and another resident. No steps were taken to enforce the notice until 28 May, when Laki was told she could not return to the flat when she had recovered – rendering her homeless. Sahara Parkside refused to discuss the eviction or Laki’s allegations of abuse with the Eye.

Institutional living
Meanwhile, Laki was pronounced well enough to leave hospital a month ago; but Newham borough council has yet to find suitable wheelchair-accessible accommodation. The council told the Eye it has a chronic shortage of accessible housing and a long waiting list. The council said it was working with the hospital and Laki’s health providers and social workers to try to find suitable temporary accommodation before securing a permanent home for her. However, Laki has turned down its first offer of a care home place, telling the Eye: “I do not want any more institutional living. I want my independence and dignity.”

As the Eye went to press, Newham’s latest offer was a room at Archway Premier Inn. The council said Laki could take her own bed and the hotel was happy for carers to visit – and if necessary stay the night. Unfortunately, the council will only fund 12 hours of care a day, with no meals or laundry service. As Laki says: “Who will support me when I am alone?” So while health and social care providers haggle over the minimum care funding they can get away with, the hospital picks up the bill for providing the care and support Laki needs.

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