Laura’s mouldy council flat was putting her son’s life in danger until Shelter’s Hospital Discharge Team took on the family’s case.
Imagine wanting to take your much-loved child home from hospital but being unable to do so as the conditions there would make him ill – or even endanger his life. That’s the horrible catch-22 that Laura faced until our hospital discharge team in Birmingham stepped in to help.
When we first met Laura, she was living in a damp and mouldy council flat with her four young children, worried for their health and terrified they might be taken into care.
‘When I viewed the flat I noticed a wall was wet in one of the bedrooms,’ says Laura; ‘by the time we moved in, grass had started growing up it.’
Naturally, Laura complained to the council and they eventually tried to repair the wall, but there was still a leak. The family had no choice but to bunk in together; all five of them, ‘wedged into the one dry bedroom’. Living like this was hard, especially for one-year-old Elliot who has serious heart and lung problems. His breathing got so bad that he was rushed to Birmingham Children’s Hospital several times. ‘Every time he left hospital he was a bit better,’ says Laura; ‘then his chest got bad again whenever he came home.’ Finally, doctors refused to let Elliot return to the flat.
Our Hospital Discharge Navigator, Natalie, visited Laura and helped her make a new housing application. She also liaised with the council, ensuring they took another look at the medical evidence relating to Elliot. Natalie also supported Laura in claiming the benefits she was entitled to and helped her with budgeting. It gave her back a much-needed sense of control.
In February, the family finally moved into their clean and dry ‘forever home’. It even has a small garden. ‘Even when we moved in, Shelter helped by finding me some basic baby things that I needed, like a baby- bouncer and a pushchair. Natalie also put me in touch with a DIY Skills Adviser called Steve, who has helped me decorate. It’s made a really big difference.’