Family battle after lady who may lose foot awarded ‘minimal care’

Ms O'Kane spent seven weeks in hospital after the fall.
Ms O'Kane spent seven weeks in hospital after the fall.

The family of a Derry woman who may lose her foot after a horrific fall have spoken of how they had to battle for months to get proper home help.

Ann O’Kane from Rosemount will find out if she has to have her foot amputated within the next few weeks.

Her daughter Marlene McLaughlin said that despite medics insisting her mother try to keep as much weight off the foot as possible to increase the chance of it being saved,she was only assessed and re-assessed as only needing minimal care.

Ms O’Kane said that despite her mother finally securing a better home care package and meals on wheels. the family wanted to raise awareness of the issue to help people in the community who might have no-one to fight on their behalf

Speaking about what happened to her mother, Marlene said: “At the start of October she fell, slipped in the bathroom and broke her ankle in three places. She was in hospital then. She had her first operation and then went to another ward. She ended up getting discharged after about seven weeks.

“I said I’ll look after her a couple of days until you get a package together. They let her out without a care package in place. At that stage they were saying they had the carers but didn’t have the funding for it, but that it was OK that she came out to my watch.”

Marlene, who also has three young children, added: “I was going up to help as much as I could. After a week it got too much. I couldn’t do all the things she needed done. I phoned the social worker and made her aware and she said, ‘no your mammy needs minimal care’.

“She had a social worker out the other day she said your mammy needs minimal care, and on the other hand she said what your mammy needs is to sit up on that chair with her foot raised and not do anything. My mother is not allowed to put any weight on it at all.

“She has her partner with her but he has got his problems as well and is not able to do much.

“It took for three doctors to phone the Physical Disability Team over the period of a week there to get them to do something.”

She added: “It’s shocking to watch, and what’s most upsetting is to think there could be families out there in the town that don’t have the support of their family or someone to speak up for them. God knows how many families.

“I think it is all to do with these funding cuts and people are being left to fend for themselves. It’s not right.

Independent Councillor Dee Quigley described the case as shocking.

He said: “This is obviously down to the cuts and this is the hard-faced reality people are going to be faced with more and more in the future. This is a potential amputee being denied the right to care due to an austerity programme coming down the line from Stormont, having been passed on by Westminster.”

Colr. Quigley said that the people would be better served if their government worked as hard to tackle tax evasion and off-shore accounts.

“This money could easily sort out the health care system”, he said.

A spokesperson for the Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust) said: “Respecting patient/client confidentiality we are unable to comment on individual cases, however, demand for domiciliary care is growing across the entire Western Trust area.

“Domiciliary care provision remains a key priority for the Western Trust and we are working closely with the Health and Social Care Board, which commissions our services, to highlight the needs of our population and to seek additional funding to meet that need. The Trust is required to live within its budget allocation for domiciliary care.

“To ensure resources are targeted towards those assessed as being a priority, the Trust applies the Regional Access Criteria for Domiciliary Care (Critical Need).

“As a consequence, this has resulted in a reduction in the volumes of domestic type support which would have been delivered through the home help service. This has been the on-going position in the Trust for the past number of years due to the continued growth in demand for the service. The Trust continues to routinely review cases which can be adjusted on the basis of assessed need.”