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Expert says disabled child's home needs overhaul - council says there's no money

Seven-year-old Kady Weakley has had a number of falls in her house as the walls and doors are too narrow for either her wheelchair or her walker.

Kady with her mother Wendy and People Before Profit candidate Alan Lawes.
Kady with her mother Wendy and People Before Profit candidate Alan Lawes.
Image: Alan Lawes

Updated 6.36pm

THE MOTHER OF a seven-year-old girl with Cerebellar Atropy has been told there is no funding for the necessary adjustments to make her council house accessible.

Cerebellar Atropy is a degeneration of the part of the brain responsible for balance, voluntary muscle movements and posture and Kady Weakley was diagnosed with it when she was four-years-old. People with damage to this part of the brain also have little of no muscle control and have trouble speaking and swallowing.

The seven-year-old required 24-hour care and uses either a walker or a wheelchair to get around. Her mother Wendy told TheJournal.ie that the walls and doors in her council house in Meath are all too narrow for either the walker or the chair. Weakley said this “leads to her having to try to walk around leading to many falls”.

The child had never been seriously injured in these falls but her mother said this is because she is constantly watched by family members who are concerned for her safety n the house.

She said she has been told for the last three years “there is no funding by Meath County Council”. In February last year, the council sent out their own Occupational Therapist to assess the house and recommendations included ramps at the front and back of the house, widening doors, lowering light switches, an extension or a room, a walk in bathroom and extra rails.

A visit from an engineer followed but the mother of five was told again that there was no funding for this and requests to be moved to more wheelchair accessible vacant council houses in the area were refused.

Frustrating

Weakley has suffered from mental health problems for a number of years and said is now on medication. She ran up arrears on her rent after her eldest daughter moved out and she was unable to pay the full amount and though she has an agreement with the council to pay the remaining €1,500 – and has stuck to this deal – she believes that is the reason for the council’s reluctance.

“It’s very frustrating,” she said. “She’s seven now so she kind of needs it and this treatment from the council because I’m in arrears.”

If the council were to make the changes, Weakley said it would considerably improve her daughter’s quality of life.

“She’s be able to use the walker all the time and we wouldn’t have to have furniture in her way just so that she’d have something to hold onto,” she said. “She’d have her freedom – I know there’s a little girl down the road Kady would love to play with if she didn’t have to be carried in and out of the house every time she wanted to go somewhere.”

Friend of the family and People Before Profit candidate Alan Lawes said that as a hospital worker himself, in Cappagh Hospital, he knows how much Kady needs the ramps and safety equipment so that every day for her family is not a “backbreaking experience”.

“The length of time this is taking to resolve has taken its toll in the form of falls for Kady and increased medication for Wendy as the stress has taken its toll,” he said.

In response to a request for comment on Weakley’s situaton, Meath County Council said it would not comment publicly on any individuals application.

“However, no funding has been awarded in 2014 to Meath County Council by the Department of the Environment Community and Local Government in its Social Housing Investment Programme for the following category of works – Local Authority Adaptation works/extensions,” the council said. “Should Department funding be made available, this application will be considered together with all other applications for an extension.”

Read: Family of child with cerebral palsy appeal for return of wheelchair accessible car>

Read: It’s been over a year – so what’s happening with the Mobility Allowance?>

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