'Trapped' disabled woman to be freed

AFTER being virtually trapped in her own home for more than a month, a wheelchair-bound Ipswich woman's battle for help looks to be over.Extra staff at Suffolk County Council mean Claire O'Brien-Ellington will get the vital assessment she needs in order for adaptations to her Ipswich home to be decided.

AFTER being virtually trapped in her own home for more than a month, a wheelchair-bound Ipswich woman's battle for help looks to be over.

Extra staff at Suffolk County Council mean Claire O'Brien-Ellington will get the vital assessment she needs in order for adaptations to her Ipswich home to be decided.

When she came out of hospital a few days before Christmas, her husband Simon struggled to help her get around their council-owned flat in Derby Close. They enjoyed the festivities, confident in the belief that occupational therapists at Ipswich Hospital were busy liaising with the council to plan a crucial ramp to the front door, and widen doorways to make life easier.

But by the time their calendar flipped over to February, nothing had been achieved. Mrs O'Brien-Ellington, 27, feared a six-month wait for an assessment by a part-time community occupational therapist, before any adaptations, even temporary, could be decided.


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In the meantime Mrs O'Brien-Ellington said she is unable to get out of the house, even in an emergency, without help from her husband or a friend.

For the former St John Ambulance volunteer and karate fan, who injured her back while defence training as a special constable, being confined to her house is like being in prison.

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She also suffers from spinal arthritis and disintegrating discs in her back and neck, and her surgeon described her spine as comparable to that of a 97-year-old.

She said: "I spend my time taking medication, helping with my husband's catalogue business, but I am so fed up at being confined to the house.

"It takes me ten minutes just to manouvre into another room, and avoid burning myself on the radiators.

"There is no room for my husband, and we are having to sell stuff so I can get around. Some of my medical aids like a special laundry basket, and a wheeled trolley on which I carry things, have had to be pushed aside, and there is a lot of stuff in the shed."

Mrs O'Brien-Ellington claims she has been repeatedly passed from pillar to post by the authorities, after hospital staff did send the necessary paperwork to Suffolk County Council.

Today a spokesman for the council said: "We have arranged, with the agreement of the couple, that our staff will do a full assessment of Mrs O'Brien-Ellington's condition and needs within a fortnight. The correct type and size of ramp required will then be fitted.

"Mrs O'Brien-Ellington's case is a little unusual, in that the couple have requested work from both councils on their current flat, and applied to be re-housed again by Ipswich Borough Council. We do have to prioritise people's requests, and so have to deal very urgently with many older people who often have severe immediate problems, for example when they may be frail after discharge from hospital.

"The council is now employing more staff to carry out the vital speedy assessments to be able to give everyone who has significant needs the equipment or help they need."

N What do you think? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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