How we give support to people dealing with life changing injuries is something which is still very much a work in progress.
Obviously, given the legislative and HSE head scratching which has gone on people such as Geraldine Lavelle are the ones who ultimately suffer the inaction.
Geraldine is a 31 years-old woman who was injured while cycling some five years ago. Since then Geraldine has worked in Abbott and IT Sligo but has been left frustrated by the fact that she lives in the Cheshire Home in Sligo and not in a more independent setting.
Initially, she was placed there on a temporary basis but roll the clocks forward to the present and she is still there with no alternative in sight.
“If there was some progress you would feel like you are further along. I feel like I’m at the real beginning with no clarity to anything really. If you go to the HSE you’re not getting any straight answers and then they send you back to the county council – it’s kind of like a chicken-and-egg situation. They’re telling me if they had the care package sorted – this is what the social housing (section) was telling me – then I would be more likely to get a home and, visa versa, the HSE was telling me, well if you had a house we would be able to give you a care package. It’s now four years and I’d need about between 45 or maybe 50 hours support living in my own home. But all the HSE and the physical and sensory department in Sligo could tell me is they have managed to obtain nine hours,” Geraldine explains.
At the Cheshire Home at Chapel Hill there are 10 rooms in a large building and while it is a form of independent living to a degree Geraldine would still like her own place.
“It is not an ideal situation – it’s an institutionalised situation for a person who’s 31, and you know, up until 27 I have been renting away from home for 10 years. So, it’s difficult when you can’t get back to some sort of level of normality that I would’ve had. People have said to me, ‘Oh why don’t you move back to Castlebar? Would that have been an option?’ and I know my home was adapted but it’s in the rural countryside.”
For the full interview with Geraldine, see this week’s Sligo Weekender newspaper – in shops now!
Alternatively, you can purchase an online edition here