After 11-year wait, Lap-tak has a place to call home

MR Ip Lap-tak, the severely mentally handicapped adult who was unable to find a place in a residential home for 11 years until the South China Morning Post ran a series of articles about him last year, is now in his permanent home.

Mr Ip, 28, was the first of 20 residents to move into the Bradbury Siu Hong Home, above the Shing Mun Reservoir in Tsuen Wan.

He was one of more than 700 severely mentally handicapped adults who had been waiting for more than 10 years to get into a home when the Post published the series of articles in connection with a public consultation on the Green Paper on Rehabilitation.

The then director of social welfare, Mr Michael Cartland, took a personal interest in the case and pledged to get Mr Ip into a home.

The task was simplified when the executive director of the Society of Homes for the Handicapped, Mr Stephen Chan Siu-yuen, offered him a place in the society's care and attention home, which was due to open in November last year.

The offer made it easier for Mr Cartland to get the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals to give Mr Ip a temporary home at Tai Tung Pui in Tuen Mun and relieve the burden on his mother.

Mrs Wong Cheung-tai had been unable to leave her son's side since he suffered brain damage in a traffic accident at the age of six.

Ms Wong had aged beyond her 56 years and was worn out from the constant care she had to give Lap-tak, the eldest of four children.

Despite help from her taxi-driver husband, Mr Ip Chun-keung, she bore most of the burden.

Since the accident, Mr Ip has not been able to walk, talk, feed himself or control his bodily functions.

Yesterday, Ms Wong proudly showed the room her son shares with two others at Bradbury. After several delays, the home was officially opened yesterday by Lady Ford, patron of the society.

Mr Ip moved into Bradbury on February 1.

The goal of only the second care and attention home for severely mentally handicapped adults in Hongkong is to keep family ties strong and relatives are encouraged to visit as often as possible.

Mr Ip's parents said they visited him at least once a week and planned to take him home for at least two days this week.

''We come and go any time we want,'' Ms Wong said.

''There is no phoning ahead to say you're coming and it's obvious from the way the residents react to the staff they are getting excellent care.'' Mr Ip Chun-keung said his son could not talk ''but I know he is happy - he looks good and has put on weight''.