Limerick family rely on kindness of strangers in issue over specialist accommodation

Norma Prendiville

Reporter:

Norma Prendiville

Richard and Caroline Enright, Athea, with their son Shane who has cerebral palsy and needs his home adapted picture: marie Keating

Richard and Caroline Enright, Athea, with their son Shane who has cerebral palsy and needs his home adapted picture: Marie Keating

“ALL we are left with is the kindness of strangers,” says Richard Enright, whose four-year-old son Shane has cerebral palsy and  desperately needs specialist accommodation at the family home outside Athea.

Despite almost two years of pushing for action, and a flurry of meetings in the last six weeks, the family still has no definite answer to their dilemma.

“We are no further in the last number of weeks. We are in the same situation,” Mr Enright continues.

Meanwhile, Shane’s need is growing. “The longer he is left without proper living conditions, the more surgery he is going to have to face. The earlier he is trained in using the specialist equipment, the less of an impact on his body,” Mr Enright explains.

Since their dilemma was first raised last month in the Limerick Leader, the family has been told that Shane has developed curvature of the spine and will need surgery, making the need to adapt their home even more urgent. 

The difficulty is that the house adaptation grant, which must be approved by the council, is capped at a maximum of €30,000 but the family was initially told they  could expect to get just €15,400 because  the grant is means tested and there is a wage coming into the home.

Meanwhile, the cost of the adaptation had been put at €80,000 but the family’s attempts to raise the remainder through financial institutions  came to nothing.  An appeal to the HSE or Limerick City and County Council for a repayable loan also ran into the sand. 

Now, having modified the building plans not once but twice,  the wait is on to see just how much of the €30,000 grant they will get. “There is no guarantee how much we will get,” says Mr Enright. 

Last week, Mr Enright adds,  a meeting took place between council officials and two occupational therapists and a physiotherapist and they must now wait for a report before tendering for the construction job can even begin.

But, he stressed, they already know that ground works alone could cost up to €15,000.

“We have been told to look for materials,” Mr Enright continues.

And people have been generous with offers so far. However, he adds: “We are now looking for raw materials, for blocks, timber, tiles, sand and cement, concrete, plaster board.

“It is embarrassing. It is not easy to be in these circumstances,” he continues. “All we are left with is the kindness of strangers. Unfortunately, that is how a lot of disability is dealt with, the kindness of others.” 

Mr Enright believes there should be a change in the law regarding disability to ensure people have the facilities they need as of right. 

The situation is made even more difficult because he himself is now facing a triple procedure to his hip, knee and shoulder which will see him out of action for several weeks or even months. If you can help please contact 0851205912 .