There could be changes coming to the way group homes operate in London.
At the Community and Protective Services Committee meeting on Tuesday, staff recommended implementing new rules to ensure the homes are licensed, insured and certified.
Regular inspections would also be carried out, and new procedures would be put into place for things like medicine distribution and food preparation and planned activities.
“The thing they were doing before was mostly looking at the condition of buildings and making sure the buildings are safe which is obviously the starting point, but now they’re saying that they will regulate and ensure proper care is being provided to people living in these group homes and that they’re getting proper nutrition and that the living conditions are generally appropriate,” says Jeff Schlemmer, a London lawyer and mental health advocate.
The recommendations come nearly two years after 72-year-old David MacPherson died in a fire at an unregulated group in east London.
MacPherson succumbed to injuries after setting fire to his room in a 12-unit unlicensed group home at 1451 Oxford Street East (pictured) in November, 2014.
“It’d be nice if we could have acted a lot more quickly, but on the other hand, the goal for staff at any given time I guess with limited resources is deciding which is the biggest and most pressing poverty issue in the moment and there’s lots to choose from, and they have other initiatives that they’re working on, London Cares and so on,” Schlemmer says. “I can’t say that it’s as easy as simply saying ‘here’s the problem, we should fix it.’ There’s lots of problems that they have to fix and they have to prioritize them.”
Around 20 other people with mental illness lived in the Oxford St. building. The home was run by Keith Charles, a recovered addict who said he opened the homes to fill a void in the system.
The proposal will now be discussed at a public participation meeting in August.
Full council will get the final say before any changes are made to the city’s business licensing bylaw.