Woman trapped in house

Dsabled Nancy Birkett, who cannot access her garden as social services won't put a slope at her door
Dsabled Nancy Birkett, who cannot access her garden as social services won't put a slope at her door

A disabled Lancaster grandmother says she has been left housebound by steps leading to the door of her home.

Nancy Birkett, 57, suffers from arthritis, osteoporosis and fibromyalgia, meaning she is confined to a wheelchair much of the time and struggles to get out of the house without help.

Mrs Birkett lives in Beaumont Place, where she has steps leading from her back door to the garden.

Council officers have already agreed to build a ramp and driveway from her front door to make it easier for Mrs Birkett to reach her husband’s car.

They will also install paving slabs leading from the front to the back via a side gate.

These are being provided as a goodwill gesture.

Mrs Birkett is under the supervision of social services’ occupational therapy team, but rather than waiting to be assessed by them for wheelchair suitability – which has a waiting time of around two years – Mrs Birkett decided to buy a power chair privately.

This meant she had not undergone the assessment needed which can lead to a city council disabled facilities grant, which would pay for a wheelchair and ramp.

However, even if granted, the council said the money does not offer the choice of a ramp at both the back and front doors of a house.

But Mrs Birkett says she has been advised by the One Voice disability charity that having ramps at both the front and back doors of her house is a “human right” and that people in the district have been given both following an assessment.

“The steps were put at the back door two years ago but now I have the wheelchair I can’t go down them so I asked if I could have a ramp instead,” she said.

“I was told this wasn’t possible because I was already getting a ramp at the front door. That means I have to sit at the back door in my wheelchair if I have my family over and the children are playing in the garden.

“I am housebound at the moment – my husband works every day so I have nobody here and I can’t get out.

“I try my best to keep going but it is really getting to me.

“I have had enough, I am sick to death of not being able to get out of the house.

“I would love to be able to get into the garden with my three-year-old granddaughter.

“Hopefully this will open people’s eyes to the process you have to go through because I am sure it’s not just me in this position.”

Olive Carroll, director of personal social care at Lancashire County Council, said: “We cannot comment on individual cases but in order to be able to apply for a disabled facilities grant from the city council an individual has to have been assessed as a wheelchair user by the NHS.

“Our occupational therapists are extremely committed and always work hard to achieve the best results for their clients.”