Authorities have uncovered an illegal old people’s home, located only a few metres from the official Lisbon residence of President Jorge Sampaio.
Apparently, the premises in question, located in Rua Padre António Vieira, have no licence. But this does not prevent a dozen residents paying around 600 euros a month to stay there, a sum that includes lodging, food and trips to the doctor. Everything else, including medical treatment, is extra.
Residents receive regular visits from family members every Thursday. One relative, who wished to remain anonymous, said her husband was staying there: “I hope that this does not mean that the home will close. He has stayed in other homes where they charged more than 1,000 euros every month and many of those were unlicensed as well,” she revealed. A functionary, who appeared to be working at the home in question, apparently denied its existence in spite of the conspicuous weekly visits from relatives.
The case highlights the difficulty thousands of Portuguese people have in finding legal homes for their loved ones. Given the lack of vacancies in legal institutions they sometimes feel they have no choice but to place relatives in unlicensed premises. Sometimes the repercussions can be serious because unlicensed homes are less likely to abide by legal guidelines. In 2001 a fire in an unlicensed old people’s home in Cascais killed six residents and drew attention to the problem of illegal homes throughout the country.
Inspectors do make regular visits to old people’s homes to check that the establishments concerned are complying with safety regulations and stipulations. “If there is something wrong, then we will close them down immediately,” an inspector was quoted as saying.
Rua Padre António Vieira in Lisbon has attracted other unwelcome media attention in the past since it is known as an area populated by prostitutes. A spokesperson for Sampaio said the President had no comment to make because he knew nothing about the home in question.