Hackney Council force man to fend for himself

The sister of a schizophrenic man who has lived in a Jewish Care home for 20 years has said she fears for his life after a London council decided he should live alone.

Hackney Council has arranged to move Allan Basser, 64, into independent accommodation in Clapton next week, with 19 hours a week of care.

According to a council spokeswoman, Mr Basser had requested the move, but his sister, Joan Krist, 68, said he did not understand the decision and that her brother was saying what he believed the council social worker wanted to hear.

Mrs Krist said she "felt sick" at the idea of him living alone.

Mr Basser receives 24-hour round the clock care at Sidney Corob House in Hampstead, where he has lived since last year when he moved from another Jewish Care home after 20 years.

He began experiencing mental health problems at the age of 11, following the death of his father, and was later given a lobotomy.

His sister said that he has previously walked around with his wallet in his hand and been mugged, and that he "cries uncontrollably" at the idea of leaving Hampstead.

Hackney Council has funded his care since he lived in the borough with his late mother 20 years ago.

Mrs Krist, who is Mr Basser's next of kin, said: "Allan is not able to fend for himself, and where he is at the moment, he has close supervision and is so well looked after. They have known him for so many years, he trusts and feels safe and secure where he is.

"Independence will put his life and his health totally at risk. He has gone out alone before and been mugged. At his home, they feed him and do his washing. He has never made a slice of toast himself, let alone anything else.

"In the independent accommodation, there is a balcony and an electric cooker and I'm worried he will burn himself or worse, because he has been suicidal before.

"My brother is a Jewish man, very much used to living in a Jewish environment, and he could not cope with being away from that Jewish part of his life."

Neil Taylor, Jewish Care director of care and community services, said that while supporting Mr Basser's wish to move, he was "concerned" that Hackney Council had not provided an "adequate contingency plan" if the independent living did not work out.

"We have worked well with the local authority in the past but in this case we are concerned that they are not taking our advice, despite the concerns we have raised, and await the outcome of the review meeting to determine our next steps," he said.

But a spokeswoman from Hackney Council said Mr Basser had asked to move, a request Mrs Krist believes he does not understand.

The spokeswoman said: "Mr Basser, who has capacity to make informed decisions, had expressed his desire, nearly three years ago, to live in a smaller environment and one which offered a greater degree of independence.

"He has been assessed on a number of occasions as being able to cope in supported housing and fully understands what it entails.

"The council has worked with Jewish Care and the supported housing provision to help with Mr Basser's transition."

At a case meeting between Jewish Care and Hackney on Wednesday, the council refused to take up an offer to return Mr Basser to his Jewish Care home if the placement did not work out.

Last updated: 12:37pm, June 30 2011