A DISABLED widow has had to use a commode in her lounge for six months – because the council can’t afford to widen her bathroom door.
Since June, 80-year-old Mary Blackwell, of New Road, Childer Thornton, has not had the use of her legs. She has been confined to a chair in her lounge, swapping it for a commode when she needs to.
This week she received a letter from Cheshire West and Chester Council’s asset and programme manager Jeanette Finn informing her there was a waiting time of another four months for her bathroom and bedroom doors to be widened and replaced with sliding doors.
Mrs Blackwell wants to stay in her maisonette flat but has been told to consider moving to a home that can accommodate her wheelchair better.
She said: “I don’t want re-housing – I’m just down the road from my sister-in-law.
“I don’t see my bathroom or bedroom. I’m in my chair morning, noon and night.”
It was one morning in June when Mrs Blackwell woke up unable to stand.
She said: “I’ve been on sticks for some time with arthritis and curvature of the spine but when I couldn’t walk I thought ‘this is serious’.”
Mrs Blackwell was first told sciatica had caused the problem, and later that her vertebrae had gone.
She was taken by ambulance to Whitby Cottage Hospital for an x-ray a week later.
“I was in agony getting onto the X-ray bed. I was in tears.
“I’m sure they don’t want to know me. It’s like they think ‘what’s the point of altering all this when she’s not got long to live’.”
Mrs Blackwell says she was told by council staff alterations would cost more than their £500 budget.
Her brother, 64-year-old John Peak, a former site manager at Vauxhall Ellesmere Port, travels from his home in Anglesey to visit his sister.
He said: “I’m fighting and fighting to get them to change this door.
“If it was an animal, the RSPCA would have them in court tomorrow for maltreatment.”
Cheshire West and Chester spokeswoman Laura Johnson said: “This council, as with all local authorities, is facing a reduction in finances and it is not always possible to immediately carry out all works requested.
“However Mrs Blackwell’s needs have been deemed to be within the top priority category and in such cases we work hard to ensure that adaptations to a property are carried out in the minimum amount of time possible.
“The property needs the bathroom and bedroom doors, one of which is a fire door, widening to allow for wheelchair access. This may involve working with an architect to assess and combat structural and space issues. We are also looking into alternative fire doors, suitable for a wheelchair user to open and control.
“The referral has been initiated by the authority’s Adaptations Team and a visit to the property by two technical officers and an Occupational Therapy Senior Practitioner will take place later this week.
“Whilst we continue to investigate the available options, Mrs Blackwell’s needs continue to be met in an appropriate manner through carers.”