Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Sinn Féin urge changes to rules governing disability adaptations

1 November, 2005

Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson, West Belfast MLA Fra McCann has called on the minister of social development to take an urgent look at the service provided by the occupational therapists who oversee the system where people get work carried out to their homes because of illness or disability. Cllr McCann has been pushing for change because of the length of time people have to wait before they are assessed and longer delays before work is carried out.

Cllr McCann said:

"The delays to adaptation work being carried on homes of people suffering illness or disability is causing serious stress and pain.

"At a recent meeting with direct rule Housing Minister David Hanson I made it clear that major change was required. I explained some of cases I am working with at present and the length of time that people are having to wait before work is carried out. Sometimes even the simplest of cases can take months.

"In a recent case where a persons size was not taken into consideration, a shower head was placed 6 inches lower than it should have been. Yet the workman said he would get into serious trouble if he moved it without permission. I contacted the occupational therapists who informed me that it could be weeks before anyone maybe able to call. Despite the fact that the delay, in moving a shower head just 6 inches, caused massive stress they still could not tell me this simple task would be completed.

"The therapist service is under funded, under staffed and has a high rate of sickness. Many are leaving to work in private industry.

"There are several ways the delays could be overcome. The Housing Executive are more than capable of carrying out the vast majority of the work required and senior housing executive personnel say they have the capacity and expertise to do much of the work from toilet and shower rails to showers. Occupational therapists should be there for extensions and many of the more intricate jobs.

"It is my understanding that the Housing Executive has now started recruiting their own occupational therapists. This needs to be speeded up if we are to end the backlog of cases and end what has become a nightmare for many people." ENDS

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