This has been an incredibly complex case to work on – the level of Adam’s injuries alone are challenging enough, without the added element of supporting his move back to Budapest.
While this has been a complex case, it’s been incredibly rewarding and I’ve learned a lot – learnings which I’m planning to share you with over a series of short blogs.
Let’s start with Adam
I’m going to start by introducing you to Adam, a 33-year-old Hungarian citizen who was living and working in the UK at the time of his accident.
In January 2015 he was walking to work when he was struck by a vehicle on a pedestrian crossing.
Adam sustained a severe brain injury and multiple fractures to his lower limbs, resulting in a significant cognitive impairment, with a marked loss of executive function, memory and higher order thinking.
Physically he has a left dense hemiparesis with tight flexion contractures in the arm and leg, and Adam’s right hand has reduced dexterity and clumsy movements throughout the arm.
He is fed via a gastrostomy, is doubly incontinent and requires 24-hour care. After a substantial period in hospital, Adam is now living in a rehab centre in the East Midlands.
The initial question – can he return to Hungary?
I became involved in his case in November 2016, when I was asked to carry out a feasibility study on if, and how, he could be moved home to Hungary.
Adam had moved to the UK to earn money so he could return to Hungary and train as a decorator. He had no family or support network in the UK, and so following the accident his first wish was, understandably, to return to his family in Budapest.
As part of the feasibility study I had to look at a wide range of issues, from whether there was suitable property available for him in Budapest, to if there were medical and care professionals there who could offer him lifetime support, and how well Budapest was geared up for disabled access.
Following extensive desk research in the UK I travelled to Budapest – the first of four trips, so far! – to determine whether it would be possible to find a suitable property to adapt.
While it became clear that the property would not be a problem, there were still questions over the availability of medical professionals to work with Adam.
There are not many people with Adam’s level of injuries in Hungary, so there is a lack of both medical and care personnel and the necessary equipment that he would need.
And of course Adam is not able to return to Hungary until everything is ready.
His physical condition is very poor, and while his cognitive function is improving – Adam can speak two languages and is very engaged – he doesn’t have the capacity to make financial decisions.
Which legal system?
As well as the practical challenges, the case presents great legal challenges. We’ll have a separate blog on this later, but as a starter for ten, which currency should his compensation be paid out in, UK sterling or Hungarian forint?
And then we have two Courts of Protection to contend with. The claim is taking place in England, so he is covered by the UK Court of Protection and has a deputy here, but every decision has to also be passed through the equivalent body in Hungary.
Where we’d usually expect a wait of three to four weeks for money to be released for home adaptation work, in Adam’s case it took six months.
While this case is a challenge, it’s exactly the kind of challenge I relish.
Piecing together the puzzle
I see it as a huge puzzle, where nothing exists and there are no obvious straightforward solutions.
But, so far, there has been no obstacle or issue that can’t be solved by some creative, out of the box thinking – my speciality!
My initial feasibility report has been shared with a raft of other experts in the field of neurology, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and care, and together we’re making good progress.
It may be taking time, but for the right reasons. And we’re definitely moving ever closer to that goal of getting Adam home.