93-year-old afraid she’ll starve after health cuts

UUP Councillor Mary Hamilton.
UUP Councillor Mary Hamilton.

A 93-year-old Derry woman has warned she could starve to death because the duration of her home help visits is being slashed.

The Waterside woman said her fears stemmed from her being on two special diets which require food to be cooked and prepared in a certain way.

The elderly woman has a narrowing of the oesophagus which means her food has to be mashed and pulverised. She is also coeliac.

Her case was one of several raised by Ulster Unionist Party Councillor Mary Hamilton at this week’s full council meeting.

The elderly woman who has asked not to be named, branded the reforms- coming as part of the ‘Transforming Your Care’ initiative ‘ridiculous’.,

The woman, who lives alone and has no relations in the city, said she has been told that her care will be cut by 15 minutes at lunch time and dinner time to just 30 minutes.

“It’s just I have to have two diets. I can’t go and take food out of one of these handy boxes and put it in the microwave.

“I have got a narrowing of the oesophagus. That means it takes me longer to eat and I never in my ,life could have a dinner made and eaten in 30 minutes . If you can make a dinner in 30 minutes you’re a good one.

“It’s ridiculous. I am getting somebody new coming into me. Next month I will have a stranger. They could be sending people that can’t even cook.

I was asked once by a lady, ‘What do you want for lunch?’, and I said, ‘ A poached egg’ and she said, ‘How do you poach an egg?’.

“They don’t seem to care how that is going to affect me, or anybody else. We are all in the same boat.”

The elderly woman added that she had worked and paid her taxes for 40 years, and actually still paid towards her care, respite and a range of other services.

Colr. Hamilton said that she knew numerous elderly people who were similarly affected, including one elderly lady in a wheelchair.

She also warned that Meals on Wheels Service run from Carnhill Resource Centre also looked likely to be impacted by cuts to services.

Mrs. Hamilton, who sits on the board of the Resource Centre, said: “Everybody is very worried and there are elderly people who are terrified.

“For some people this is the only visitor they see all day.

“One person had collapsed and if it hadn’t been for Meals on Wheels calling they might have died..”

Mrs Hamilton has called the council and health authorities to take the concerns of local people onboard .

The Western Trust was yesterday not in a position to answer the concerns expressed.