For My Mum – A Strong Woman Who Always Endured

Nonna has died

MUM AND I

 My mother always wanted to die in her bed and at home.

This is what she did for her mother in 1962. She made me promise that I would do the same for her, and I keep my promises.

Due to her illness, she had to come to London in April 2012. My home became her home. At first she had a small bedroom upstairs but, when her disability became aggravated, she settled in the sitting room.

Over the last two years I have been caught up in something that I never expected to have to do. For two years now, I have been my mother’s carer. Systems were meant to be in place but no one was able to provide the support which she required. No one else was there to help.

 

GRIEVANCES

Of course I expected my mother to grow old – but I never expected that an innocent woman in her condition would have to experience as much injustice as she did in her final years. Those two years should have been as comfortable as possible for her. They could have been a time for reconnection and I could have cared for her alongside the professionals whom I was assured would be available to support her in her last two years. But this has not been the case. Instead, I have had to fight for up to eighteen hours every day to protect her basic human rights. I have had to open legal cases on behalf of my mother, against inept care agencies and corrupt local authorities. I have had to make police complaints about the racist abuse that we have suffered on the part of local officials and their legal representatives. Ultimately, I have had to involve the European Commission in an investigation of the care provided to the elderly by Ealing Council. All of this, on top of caring for my elderly, disabled mother.

My mother was Italian. She was born in Milan and was a Member of the European Union, allegedly a safe place in which the many Treaties and Acts of Parliament should safeguard the best interests of European Citizens. We live in the London Borough of Ealing, UK, EU. Ealing Social Services were obliged by law to provide my elderly mother with certain services that would have enabled her to live with dignity and respect. Unfortunately Ealing Council’s principal consistent aim has to save money by providing the bare minimum of services possible, even when that lack of provision has constituted a breech of European Law. For many months, due to personal illness, I couldn’t even fetch a cup of tea for myself, yet was expected to look after my mum. The list of problems with the services we were offered is too long to write here, but it is safe to say that we were all heavily and horribly burdened by Ealing Council.

Throughout these two very challenging years I received very little support from the rest of my family.

As if the lack of services was not enough, some eight months ago, Ealing Council decided that my mother should have been deported back to Italy, where she has no family or friends whatsoever. Just to make sure I felt the full and mighty power of Ealing Council, they unleashed their team of Solicitors and instructed them to take action against my mother and I (a very poor employment of public money which came to nothing as I countered it with my own legal support and a police investigation into the inherent racism and bullying involved on the part of Ealing Council). However – It took me almost six mentally and physically exhausting months and a sum of £3,000 to prove to Ealing Council that, under European Treaty Rights, my mother had every right to stay in the UK.

One might assume that there are procedures and organisations in place to assist those in such predicaments. The reality is that this is not the case.

So called “charities” such as Age Concern and Dementia Concern have proven to be both useless and spineless; unwilling to challenge Ealing Council. They have been busy “bodies” when it comes to the presentation of glossy booklets with large amounts of “proper” and “correct” information – but that information has been of absolutely no use to me or my mother in the real world.

Local Councillors have proved equally useless. Almost everyone to whom I have spoken has not had enough experience with “complicated cases” such as these – but the truth is that they are too career orientated to risk confronting the problems within  the council, preferring to ignore the issue because it would rock the boat too much.

MPs – as we all probably know – are all too good at making impossible promises (especially before elections) and are often too useless to achieve anything in the long run. True to form, our local MP, Mr. V. Sharma, has done nothing to assist my mother in any way or form, despite my writing to him numerous times.

Only one MEP has done something for my case ­– that was Baroness Ludford. Despite her clear intervention, Ealing Council decided to ignore her criticism and advice. None of the other MPs and MEPs that I contacted ever replied.

I have even been ignored by a Parliamentary Ombudsman, responsible for handling complaints made against a MPs. The system is always so keen to protect its “own”. The Local Government Ombudsman proudly states that it “looks at complaints about councils and some other authorities and organisations” but it took them over 16 months to initiate a case and come to any decision. That decision came after a great amount of my correspondence had been ignored, and, while it was in my mother’s favour, it lacked facts and was still biased towards Ealing Council.

As we are in the EU, it stands to reason that we should have sought assistance from supportive elements within that wider political infrastructure – smaller organisations that fall under the umbrella of the EU.

The AIRE Centre is a specialist charity whose mission is to promote awareness of European law rights and assist marginalised individuals and those in vulnerable circumstances in asserting and maintaining those rights. It was as if we had won the lottery as one of their lawyers, Sarah St Vincent, prepared a very comprehensive report on my mother’s Rights. However, that legal report was also completely ignored by Ealing Council in January 2013.

At the time of contacting the Ombudsman and the AIRE Centre I also contacted the Directorate-General Justice of the European Commission. Almost two years later, all that I can say is that their office has done little-to-nothing. Only recently, they had the audacity to say that the case has been solved because Ealing Council sent them a letter of apology (which I can only presume, as no evidence of such a letter has ever been made available to my mother and I). The case has only been solved on the basis that someone has admitted that my mother has been abused and neglected. That hasn’t helped anything. It has all been too little, far too late.

I am a person who fights and does not give up. I fight because I believe that our rights should be protected, and I fight because we are led to believe that Institutions and Governments are there to assist us in a fair and decent way. I can tell you that this is not the case. Throughout this struggle, I have had the opportunity to meet many others in similar conditions to mine; but they have not been able to fight against the system. They have struggled along inside the system, never getting anywhere, always suffering. The system is useless to us, it is corrupt.

It is, in many cases a lottery. As Sarah St Vincent has left the AIRE Centre and a new manager has taken over, the service is no longer available to most users. Similar to a lottery, a person has only one chance in every million, to be heard or considered. The same must be said for almost all of the many other organisations and charities I have encountered along the way. Just because I have not mentioned them here, it doesn’t mean I have not been in touch with them. In most cases they have been pretty useless, a false screen of security assuring us that we have friends inside the system. We do not. The charities and organisations are simply taking us for a ride. They take our money and provide lousy results at best.

Please remember – this is not only about me and my mother – this is YOUR FUTURE.

Yes – I am bitter that the last 26 months of my mother’s life were not more jovial. I have every right to be bitter. So would you, if it was your mother. So would you, if you were the one who was disabled and dying and left to fend for yourself.

She could have had a better time but I could not do everything at once. I could not provide her with the sort of care she wanted and needed whilst also fighting institutional apathy, professional negligence and simple, dumb stupidity.

 

MEMORIES

My mum lived through some wonderful periods but, often, her memories were full of regret and sorrow.

She lost her father when she was 19 and she didn’t get on well with her mother.

She endured the painful bombardment of Milan during the Second World War and often spoke about the rats in the streets and the people’s screams, coming from under collapsed buildings.

Then, from 1950 to 1970 she led a very elegant and prosperous life, which she enjoyed in many different ways.

In 1970 her husband (my father) died and both her daughter (my sister) and I left Italy.

I had little communication with her in the following years, but, despite fighting cancer in 1990, she managed to enjoy much of her life and was full of fond memories of her father and her husband.

In the last two years of her life she had no friends left and not much of a family either: there are two siblings and five grandchildren, and that is all.

At this point, one should say that one’s mum was a vibrant soul, the sort of person who literally lit up the room whenever she came through the door. But this was not the case. Instead, I remember mum as a person with a very strong and determined character – and maybe that was inherited from her Slavic grandmother.

Mum had absolutely no interests whatsoever in the last 15 or so years of her life – apart from buying scratch cards. Conversation and interaction with others was always a problem for her – she preferred her own her monologue.

And so my lasting memories of mum are simple: a hard-working, passionate figure of strength who soldiered on, even when times were tough.

She was very much there for us and she cared for us a great deal when we were little.

Mum, thank you for everything you’ve given us – and for the warmth we shared during your precious time on earth.

For EU Justice the case is solved ??

  • To: Directorate General  Justice, European Commission, Brussels

“Justice, Fundamental Rights, Discrimination, EU Citizenship”

  • cc. – Paul Nemitz, Director – Fundamental Rights and Citizenship – European Commission

 

Dear Sirs,

This is a direct reply to your letter, dated 6th June 2014.

In previous correspondence you advise that I maintain contact with you should the situation fail to improve. You suggest that I should reply to you “within four weeks of the date of this letter” if “there still is an infringement”.

I am writing to you now to confirm that there is still a serious infringement and, as a result, I wish you to continue investigating this case.

Quoting paragraph seven (5), line one (1) of your letter, I also wish to dispute your observation that my “problem has now been solved.”

I would like to argue that this is not and has never been the case. I would also like to provide information to evidence that there have been further infringements, suggesting that there have been insufficient consequences of your initial enquiry. Finally, I would like that enquiry to be continued and its efforts redoubled (on your part) so as to put an end to the mistreatment of a vulnerable individual (my mother) as a result of malpractice on the part of a civil authority within the Union (Ealing Council) towards a European Citizen.

While I understand that the European Commission is very busy with a multitude of cases from all over the Union, it is also paramount that justice, fundamental human  rights and citizenship policies based on Europeans’ most cherished values and principles, such as democracy, freedom, tolerance and the rule of law are respected by all members.

After over 24 months of misery I feel that even suggesting that “the problem has been solved” is something of a disgrace. There are various reasons for this and I will explain them now. In order to do so, I would like to bring to your attention a simple analogy:

A child needs foster care and this is provided to him or her by a local authority within the EU. However, while in care the child is abused sexually and mentally. That abuse is noted and is investigated by all the relevant bodies including the EU Commission. After assessment, the Child is provided with new carers. The abuse has been solved in the first instance. New carers have been sent to replace the previous carers – but the child is till abused. This is allowed to happen because nothing has done to ensure that the new carers will not also be abusive. In this case the problem has only been avoided on paper, not solved in real life.

This is not unlike my mother’s situation. She has been moved from agency to agency by Ealing Council but five (5) care agencies and thirty five (35) carers have not been enough to resolve the problem. In this situation, your suggestion that the problem has “been solved” implies that the abuse itself and its lasting effects are not of any relevance to your moral and civil duties, so long as you receive a letter of apology from Ealing Council! You seem to believe that the problem has gone away simply because someone in the UK tells you that “a degree” of care is being provided.

My mother is not a child, but she is very vulnerable. The abuse she has suffered is of the same magnitude as it would be in a case of child abuse. The abuse has not stopped, was never resolved in the first place and is still ongoing.

Should I therefore assume that your office has taken note of abuse but has failed to deal with its source? Is this the Directorate-General’s attitude towards human rights abuse? Are human rights abuses really condoned by the Directorate-General of the EU Commission?  If the Directorate-General condones the abuse of citizens of the Union then I ask you please to say so, now, in writing. If so, I will cease to bother you on this point. However, it is my reasonable assumption that this is not the case. I must therefore assume that it is your duty to take action against all instances of abuse which are brought to your attention, and to do so in a conclusive manner.

As the abuse which took place between April 2012 and May 2013 has never been fully investigated by your office, I must reemphasize that the problem has not been sufficiently or fully resolved. I must conclude that the case should not be closed until further investigations have taken place.

In your letter you ask to get in contact with you if there “is still an infringement.”  Complying with your request, I have detailed some unresolved infringements below. These are divided into sections and one for past infringements that have not been fully dealt with and one for present infringements of which you are unaware.

It is clear from information that your inquiry has been largely ignored by Ealing Council.

Unresolved Past Infringements

Over the last two years Ealing Council Adult Social Services have ignored their responsibility to my mother’s fundamental human rights.

Not only have they appointed a series of appalling care providers, they have also persisted in adding unnecessary stress to the situation; for well over five months, their solicitors have continued to insist that my mother should be deported. As you will understand, this has placed tremendous emotional and financial pressure on the whole family. That has included the costs of legal and medical support in our argument with Ealing Council. Stress has also been incurred in the wake of a police enquiry into the racial abuse that my mother has suffered on the part of representatives of Ealing Council. That stress has led to the worsening of her condition. This has been identified by my legal representatives as a form of psychological bullying. The medical repercussions of this bullying are tantamount to torture; as such this process of intimidation has constituted a sustained and unresolved abuse of human rights on the part of Ealing Council.

My mother has had to endure continuing mental and physical abuse equivalent to examples drawn from the concentration camps.

Examples include times when my mother has been starved by her carers because they have been extremely late to their appointments, have failed to arrive at all or have been too preoccupied with other things to bother feeding my mother. Other examples have included times when insufficient care has been provided due to further negligence, during which my mother has fallen or otherwise hurt herself because of a carer’s lack of awareness. Indeed, there is a long list of negligence and malpractice on the parts of various carers (some thirty five (35) of them across four (4) care agencies, within a period of three (3) months.

All of this has been noted and complained about, yet there have been almost no repercussions. There have been numerous meetings but none of them have produced adequate results.

For some details of my original complaint you may wish to revisit my original email, addressed to Ms. Chiara Adamo on 31.01.2013. 

It is my firm belief that Ealing Council need to be ‘accurately’ re-investigated. 

Unresolved Present Infringements

My mother’s health has changed a great deal since 22nd May 2014. She is no longer able to perform any tasks on her own. We have been asking for further (more) assistance since June 8th. The carers we have been provided cannot cope any longer. They cannot finish their tasks. Ealing Council have been made well aware of this but they have failed to respond with anything helpful and have been delaying and ignoring our requests for help.

Furthermore, they have ignored the advice of medical professionals who have advised that the only humane answer lies in the provision of a carer who can work with my mother on a twenty-four-seven basis (24/7).

Due to the lack of appropriate care provision by Ealing Council we have had to call the emergency services regularly and ambulances have been sent to my mother as many as six (6) times out of ten (10) days. Not only has my mother suffered because of this – this is also a huge waste of time and money for the NHS. Each time an ambulance has been dispatched to help my mother, there has been one less ambulance available for other service users. Despite my complaints, this has also been ignored by Ealing Council. This is a clear instance of negligence as both my mother’s and the wider public’s needs are being ignored by Ealing Council.

Ealing Council have failed to respond to requests from a GP, from professional nurses, from care agencies and from health specialists, all of whom have indicated that the care provided to my mother is severely substandard. Simply put – we are all being ignored by Ealing Council.

This ignorance constitutes a continued infringement and I feel – absolutely – that it merits further investigation. I must remind you that, in the professional environment, this ignorance constitutes malpractice and, because it concerns the care provided to a vulnerable person, it is tantamount to an abuse of human rights.

I must reiterate that things have not improved. My mother is still suffering and it is still the fault of Ealing Council.

Request for Additional Information

In addition to my documentation of the unresolved infringements (discussed above), I would like to request additional information from your office. I feel that it is important that I remain well informed as this information may be of use to my case here in the UK.

Initial enquiries were opened in January and February 2013 but there was no formal acknowledgement of my mother’s ongoing suffering until May 2013. Furthermore, it was then agreed that a response was due from the UK authorities by August 2013. Yet nothing was done until May 2014. I would like to know why it took the relevant authorities more than three (3) months to accept that there was a problem with the care provided to my mother, and I would like to know why there were little to no repercussions when the UK authorities failed to deliver a response within the given time.

Would you kindly be able to answer this question, please: Why have I never been shown any of the correspondence between the EU Commission and the UK authorities?

In addition, I would like to request a copy of the information supplied to you by the UK authorities and/or Ealing Council.

Moving Forwards

Returning to my main point – it is obvious that Ealing Council have not acted to improve the situation.

It is utterly wrong in any situation involving abuse to say that Ealing Council should not be considered responsible for all the heartache as well as the mental and physical duress that my mother and I have had to go through, just because they have written to you to say that “some sort of care” has been provided. “Some sort of care” was indeed provided, but it was provided alongside fundamentally damaging instances of malpractice.

It is for this reason that I am contacting you again, to ask that you continue and strengthen your investigation.

I made many complaints about Ealing Council between April 2012 and October 2013. This side of the matter has partially been addressed, some eighteen (18) months later by the local Ombudsman. They are also stating that there have been serious failures in the services provided. Moving forward, the issue that the Directorate-General should be concerned with, is that the Lisbon Treaty and other European Legislations should correctly be interpreted and applied to all Citizens with a view to the improvement of the everyday lives of citizens in the EU.

Ealing Council have been in breach of their duties, they have acted with arrogance and impunity, and they have ignored their requirements to work within the proper parameters of legislation. In their self interested ignorance and arrogance, they have brought serious harm to an elderly woman and to members of the same family, all of whom are Citizens of the EU.

Furthermore, by putting aside my original complaint, the Directorate-General risks the creation of a precedent in which the British authorities are allowed to discriminate at will against the Citizens of any Member State.

Once again, therefore, I kindly ask your office to reconsider your position on this case. I ask that you please implement and act upon the founding principles of the union you represent and that you come to the defend the human rights of my mother, an elderly citizen of the EU.

Please do not close this case. Instead, request further information from and apply further pressure to the UK authorities.  Please consider this of the utmost importance. This is a human rights case and it cannot be ignored.

Many Thanks

Kind Regards

A B M Procaccini