Mother fears epileptic son could drown in bath at overcrowded housing association flat in Cally

Melissa Edwards and her son Oliver Edwards. Picture: Freddie Simpson

Melissa Edwards and her son Oliver Edwards. Picture: Freddie Simpson - Credit: Archant

A single mother has been pleading for a walk-in shower for two years because she’s fearful her son will have an epileptic fit and drown in the bath.

Melissa Edwards, 36, is living with four kids and sharing a bed with two of them because it's so cramped in their two-bed flat in York Way Court, Copenhagen Street.

Her 15-year-old son, Edward, has ADHD and takes medication twice daily to control his epilepsy but still suffers from seizures.

In April 2018, child epilepsy specialist Tracy Oakeden wrote a letter recommending the family should be re-housed to a ground floor property with showering facilities, where Oliver has his own bedroom.

Ms Oakden, who works for UCLH NHS Foundation Trust, also warned overcrowding was effecting Oliver's sleep and likely lowering his seizure threshold, which compromises his safety.

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Melissa claims her housing association Southern Housing Group has seen this letter but done nothing to help her.

She told the Gazette: "It's causing me a lot of stress and I'm really let down by the system because they haven't taken his safety into consideration. I have to supervise him when he is in the bath. I have to make sure he is safe every time he gets in there, and he doesn't want that. I just want him to have his independence and be safe but he is not safe, if he was to have a seizure in the bath he could end up drowning. He is on medication at the moment but it can happen any time."

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Melissa says she's contacted both Southern Housing asking for help but hasn't got any.

She added: "I think it's Southern Housing's responsibility. [...] I'm trying to get help, anything to get them to hear me because no one's listening."

There is a shower fitting above the bath but the Epilepsy Society advises "walk-in showers or wet rooms give easy access, and can reduce the number of hard surfaces to fall against, such as the side of a bath".

A Southern Housing spokesperson said: "We do not comment on individual cases. However, we do understand the difficulties caused by overcrowding or when a home no longer caters for the changing needs of a family.

"That is why we continue to work with and advise our residents on finding alternative accommodation that best suits their needs. This includes helping them to understand all of the options available to them, such as registering with Homeswapper and their local authority."

There are about 14,000 people on Islington Council's housing waiting list.

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