Granny with MS fed up waiting for home

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The Housing Executive has apologised to a Creggan Multiple Sclerosis sufferer who has spent the past seven months in temporary accommodation waiting for her home to be adapted to her needs.

Liz Callaghan, a wheelchair user, agreed to move into the temporary NIHE house in Westway in February in the belief the adaptation of her Rathlin Drive home of 37 years would be completed by June.

However, as of yesterday, the couple remained in the interim house on Creggan’s northern fringe although NIHE have said work to their home in Rathlin Drive is now substantially complete.

Expressing her frustration at the long wait, Mrs. Callaghan said: “Things can run late. If they would just tell us. It’s just like you’re thrown down here and that’s it. We just want a date. We understand there are going to be delays, there are going to be problems.”

Her case was raised by Independent Councillor, Gary Donnelly, during a meeting of Derry City & Strabane District Council’s Governance & Strategic Planning Committee earlier this month. Colr. Donnelly said Mrs. Callaghan’s husband Fergal had had to lift his wife in and out of the bathroom in Westway and that this was having a toll on their health.

Speaking to the ‘Journal’ in her temporary home Mrs. Callaghan said: “To get outside they have to tip the wheelchair and you’re afraid you’re going to fall. I thought that’s it. This is where I spend my life sitting here.”

Her daughter Jacinta said the house is just not suitable for a wheelchair user.

“She can’t move about. To get into the living room you have to lift the back of the wheelchair. To get her into the toilet it also has to be lifted.”

The NIHE said it carried out 178 adaptations in the North in 2017/18 and that they are often complex jobs involving the tenant, Occupational Therapists, contractors, consultants, Building Control, Planning and in-house staff.

“We understand the frustrations of the tenant and apologise for the delay. In preparation of an agreed start date with the contractor, we placed the tenant into suitable temporary accommodation while the works were due to take place,” a spokesperson said.

“We employed specialist consultants to draw up plans and oversee the work and contractors to carry out the building work. Unfortunately we have had significant difficulties with both the consultant and the contractor which meant the work was not completed within the agreed timeframe. All major work to the tenant’s home has now been completed and they are able to move back in.”