Dementia and Discrimination

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by drummergirl, Jun 4, 2015.

  1. drummergirl

    drummergirl Registered User

    Jul 4, 2012
    13
    'A nuisance.' 'Not normal.' 'Not right in the head'.

    These are a few of the phrases my mum's landlord used to describe her just before he tried to evict her because she had dementia.

    Obviously he couldn't say that the eviction was due to dementia. Even he wouldn't be that stupid, surely. Fortunately for us, it turned out he was. When we asked him to clarify exactly why he wanted mum out, he really didn't have to give us a reason. Luckily, he couldn't resist the opportunity to vent some more discriminatory nonsense and claimed (on tape) that mum's dementia had 'voided the insurance of the building', and that she was a 'danger to the community'. Handily, a quick call to a couple of insurance companies made it clear that he was talking rubbish.

    This all happened a year ago, but it still winds me up that there are people like him in the world. People who believe that the law doesn't apply to them because they've inherited some property and so are richer, and therefore superior in every way, than the tenants who rent from them. I suppose when one is used to lording it up and down their own tiny piece of suburbia, one doesn't expect to be challenged by one of the serfs. Especially not one with dementia.

    I'd have been a bit more accepting if we'd abandoned mum and left her alone in the flat with the gas on and a box of matches. But we didn't. Between my family and a team of professional carers, we worked out a system where she wouldn't have to be on her own. Well, that was the plan, until the landlord attempted to refuse to allow me or my brother to stay overnight in case we 'claimed squatters' rights'. I kid you not. It's almost laughable now. We weren't laughing at the time though. Looking after someone with dementia was stressful enough; having to deal with a bigoted landlord at the same time really didn't help.

    Confidentiality doesn't apply to landlords either, apparently. His wife (who incidentally has nothing to do with his business but is on the local Gardening Committee, and is therefore a Very Important Person) rang up Social Services and demanded information about mum's illness. Which they gave her. I know, I was pretty incredulous as well. Anyway, we got an official apology from Social Services. Not from the wife though. She was most unapologetic, and apparently irate that someone like her, with a rich husband and a working knowledge of weeds, wasn't actually legally entitled to confidential information. Bloody data protection laws.

    Despite the landlord's outrage that we dared to challenge his eviction notice, he didn't even bother turning up to court. I suppose he thought it was a done deal. We decided to contest it on the grounds of disability discrimination, so his penchant for Alf Garnett-style sound bites came in handy. We didn't want to put mum through the stress of appearing in court, what with having a terminal illness to deal with and all, so my brother and I represented her. It was a bit of a shock when the landlord tried to claim eight grand from us in legal expenses that he'd apparently accrued over three days. Unless his brief was Amal Clooney I'm not sure how he managed that one.

    Luckily the Judge was equally baffled. He decided that the case was obviously complex and needed further investigation so he arranged another hearing, much to the landlord's dismay and our delight. A few weeks later we received a letter from the landlord's lawyer. Although he still viewed our actions as highly unreasonable, his client had decided to drop the case due to the financial implications involved in going to trial. He also decided to give mum a further twelve month tenancy. Funny that.

    Mum had us to fight her corner. I dread to think how many people experience prejudice like this with nobody to defend them. The landlord's actions were discriminatory, but he'd have got away with it if we hadn't called him out. We were advised by both Citizen's Advice and Shelter that there was no way we could successfully challenge an eviction notice from a private landlord. I want people to know that sometimes it is possible. I get that it's his property. I get that he has the right to decide who lives in it. Hopefully him and his wife now get that tenants have rights too - even those who aren't 'right in the head'.

    I don't think I'll be able to join the Gardening Committee anytime soon though. What a nuisance.
     
  2. mancmum

    mancmum Registered User

    Feb 6, 2012
    384
    Well done. DDA should be used more frequently .

    As I said well done. When I was a person, with a job, before caring I worked in education with a number of people with sensory or mobility disabilities..and some with mental health issues. We were clear on our need to be DDA compliant but this seems often not to be the case for those who come across people with Alzheimers.

    A simply request to the large company digging large holes (which they left unguarded) in the pavement for British Gas responded that they had never heard of dementia friendly information and they had checked with their legal people and they didn't need to do anything like that - pathetic!. I wanted something like tiger tape warning notices ..saying be careful - Holes, rather than just the closely worded 2 sides of A4 which was useless.

    Companies, institutions and people seem to be slow to understand that the DDA does apply to them.
     
  3. Isabella

    Isabella Registered User

    Jan 4, 2014
    106
    I'm so sorry that you've had to go through this. Looking after a loved one with dementia is horrible enough without having to deal with something so awful on top. My heart really goes out to you.
     
  4. virtualranger

    virtualranger Registered User

    May 22, 2017
    1
    My mum lives in a McCarthy & Stone development. A lady on her corridor has dementia and rents her flat. Her family visit once every couple of days and she has carers twice a day but only for 20 minutes or so. Unfortunately her symptoms have rapidly got worse over the six weeks she has been there.

    The lady is knocking on other people's doors at night for no reason and has been returned to the development late at night by the police after getting lost. She often can't find her keys and doesn't know where she lives. She shouts and screams keeping people awake and she also lets strangers in to what is meant to be a secure building. She keeps asking my mum to help her put her shoes on but my mum is 87 and can't bend down.

    While I understand the poor lady's predicament, my mum and her neighbours would also be considered vulnerable yet they are now living in constant fear. They are losing sleep and my mum is becoming visibly unwell. They also feel very sad for the lady.

    There are no care facilities here and the problems most often occur at night when she has no support or supervision. The landlord let her in knowing she had dementia because they were worried about discrimination and although they have had discussions with the family they won't do anything to end the tenancy. The development management company are taking the same view.

    It is quite clear that the family are in denial and don't want to pay for more care or suitable housing which is inevitably more expensive.

    While I can see the bigotry in the original post, surely landlords should be able to actively discriminate and refuse tenants in the circumstances I have described, for the health and wellbeing of the other elderly vulnerable residents?
     
  5. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    9,317
    Female
    South coast
    So its not actually your relative that has dementia?

    While I sympathise entirely with your mums predicament and if you had said that this is what is happening to your mum I would have said that she needed to be in a care home now, I wonder whether you realise how hard this can be to arrange, especially if the person in question has no house to sell to pay for the care?

    We have seen many people on here where the boot is on the other foot (so to speak) and they have come asking for advice because Social Sevices wont agree to the moving into a care home. The emphasis at the moment is for maintaining that person in the community, and many relatives end up pulling their hair out in despair. My own mum was doing similar things to this lady, but SS didnt want to know and it took a crisis before mum ended up in hospital and from there went into a care home and got the care she needed. I can only recommend that you and the other residents contact Social Services yourselves to explain the problems and fears.

    BTW - I must say that I am slightly bemused that you have registered on here in order to moan about a thread that is 2 years old.
     

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