Mum's plea for daughter who suffers from spina bifida

Mum's plea for daughter who suffers from spina bifida

Rose Jones and her daughter Patricia O’Connor at their home off Grattan street

THE mother of a 12-year-old girl who is legally blind, has spina bifida and mobility issues, has said she is living in fear that her daughter will be injured trying to access her first-floor bedroom and toilet in a council house she shares with her four kids and grandchild.

Rose Jones has been campaigning for her daughter, Patricia, to be re-housed in a unit that is suitable for her needs and which has a downstairs bathroom and bedroom.

Patricia has already fallen down the stairs in their current home – where they have lived since 2014 - on St Peter's Avenue on Grattan St and has had to start wearing nappies again as she finds it hard to access the first-floor toilet.

“Patricia has mobility issues as a result of her condition and she has to go upstairs to sleep and to use the toilet,” said Ms Jones.

“We need a house with a bedroom and a bathroom on the ground floor for her. I have arthritis and I have to lift Patricia in and out of the shower. Sometimes I just can't do it. She's had to start wearing nappies again and she can't make it up to the toilet sometimes.

“She has a shunt as a result of her condition. If she falls down the stairs and hits her head in the wrong way it could destroy her life, she could end up as a vegetable. It's not safe in here for her,” she added.

The family have also been victims of anti-social behaviour in the area and on one occasion woke to find two men in the house in the middle of the night. Ms Jones said the house is a former squat and people have repeatedly tried to break in.

Drug paraphernalia and condoms have also been discarded at the front and back of the house.

Rose's story: 

ROSE Jones can't sleep at night. 

She tries to get some rest each night in a makeshift bed in the dining room, which doubles as a bedroom, on the ground floor of her three-story council house.

Upstairs her 12-year-old daughter Patricia, who has spina bifida and mobility issues, shares a room with her big sister. 

On the third floor, her other daughter and grandson share a room adjacent to her young adult son's bedroom.

Ms Jones' biggest fear is that Patricia will be hurt in the home which is not modified for a person with a disability and has two flights of stairs.

Patricia can walk with difficulty and support, but often has to be carried and Ms Jones' arthritis means she can't always do that.

Ms Jones has had to face the ignominy of putting Patricia - almost a teenager - back in nappies as she cannot access the bathroom on occasion as it is on the second floor.

Allied to that, Ms Jones is also constantly worried about anti-social behaviour that is taking place outside her home.

Their home, she says, has been broken into on one occasion by addicts looking for somewhere to sleep and drink and other attempts have been made to access the home which has shaken the family.

“My eldest daughter woke up early one morning to make a bottle for her child. When she was passing the living room there was a man asleep on the couch in the living room on the second floor. The same night, there was a man in the kitchen with a bottle of wine and his head lying on the table,” she said.

“Recently there were drug needles outside our door in a plant pot and on another occasion, there were used condoms on top of our bins. People are urinating in the laneway behind the house and my daughter has been followed.

“This house was a squat before and there was a lot of drug use. When we moved in there was blood splattered on the walls, and it wasn't painted. There were smoke alarms hanging from the ceiling, the shower was burnt off the wall,” she added.

The family have not been happy since they moved in in 2014, moving from private rented accommodation they could no longer afford on the northside, and Ms Jones believes it has affected the mental health of all her children who feel isolated.

“It's hard to get the kids up and out to school in the mornings because of the noise in this area during the night. There is a music venue nearby that is keeping us awake until all hours of the morning,” said Ms Jones.

“Since we came here they are not interested in school. My son just locks himself in his room. He was never like that,” she added.

Patricia is a bright and inquisitive young girl who has big ambitions for her education and career – she wants to be a doctor - but she feels like she is cut off from her friends in the Bishopstown school she attends.

“I just want to live in a normal home. My Nintendo is my best friend here,” she said.

Ms Jones has vowed to keep on fighting until she can give her daughter the living space that she needs and will continue to ask the housing authorities to help her.

“If Patrica had a proper home she could go to school and when she came home she could play with her friends, do her homework and be a normal child,” said Ms Jones.

“Patricia needs green space, she needs somewhere to play. She has no friends but had loads of friends in the other places we lived. There's no light coming into this house. In winter, it's very depressing,” she added.

In a statement released to the Evening Echo, Cork City Council said a lack of properties modified for people with disabilities is behind the delay in rehousing Mrs Jones and her family in more suitable accommodation.

“We are aware of Ms. Jones’ case. Her request for a transfer was approved in May 2016 on health grounds, and the areas of choice submitted at the time were Greenmount, Ballyphehane and Togher,” read the statement.

“Letters submitted from medical professionals in support of the transfer request indicate that a house with a downstairs bedroom and bathroom is required to meet her daughter’s needs. However, as there are additional dependent children in the household, a four-bedroom property is required to accommodate the family.

“We are conscious of the need for this family to be transferred. However, there are other households also in urgent need of ground floor or specially adapted premises and there is a limited supply of such units available - particularly to meet the areas of choice to suit the family’s needs.

"It is, unfortunately, a matter of waiting for a suitable property to become available in these areas and we cannot currently give an indication of how long this may be.”

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