Exactly a year ago today, on January 19 2020, a fire broke out in the „Kavkaz care home“ in Verjprty, Czechia. The fire killed 8 people with intellectual disabilities. Another 30 were injured.
Many public officials, including the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, called for the immediate reconstruction the “Kavkaz care home”. But such place was never suitable for living. The people who have lived there should receive accommodation and support in a normal environment.
In cooperation with Inclusion Czechia and Rytmus we immediately responded to this appalling event by calling on the Czech authorities to change their approach to this type of facilities that do not provide protection for people with intellectual disabilities but segregate them instead.
Together, our organisations called for:
- Proper investigation of the cause of the fire and why the number of victims was so high. It was discovered in 2018 that the organization operating the “Kavkaz care home” uses excessive medication of the residents of their „care homes. The investigation should also provide an answer to the question of what role this could have played in such a large number of victims.
- Proper support to the survivors of the fire, as well as to the families and friends of the deceased.
- Providing the survivors of the “care home” with adequate housing and support in a normal environment. “Care” institutions are not a good place to live and the “Kavkaz care home” should not be reconstructed. Instead, the money should go to providing flats or houses and support in a normal environment.
- Immediate action to prevent further tragedies like this one. Such measures must include the provision of housing and support in a normal environment for the current residents of „care“ institutions, as guaranteed by Czech law.
Alas, we have not seen any major changes in the Czech authorities approach since then.
One positive development is that the director of the „Kavkaz care home“ has agreed on collaboration with deinstitutionalisation experts, including those from community-based services. The „Kavkaz care home“ may be finally heading for the necessary changes. This deserves and needs much more systemic support from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
The news of the deaths of 8 people hit us hard last year. May they never be forgotten:
Petr A. (59)
Miloslav C. (51)
Zdeněk D. (56)
Oldřich G. (57)
Vladimír K. (60)
Martin J. (36)
Daniel S. (45)
Roman T. (53)