Waiting for a wheelchair: a human rights issue
Sir, – A child waiting for a wheelchair is a human rights issue. Tom Clonan describes the impact on his son Eoghan of sitting in a wheelchair that is too small for him (“I defy the board of the CRC to explain its obscene behaviour to my son”, Home News, January 18th). He describes his legs curling back, increasing his risk of leg contractures.
Sitting in a wheelchair that is too small can have major consequences on children’s development, not only impacting on their limbs, but also leaving them at risk of chest infections and pressure ulcers. Being squashed in a wheelchair can affect individuals’ feeling of safety, their mental health, their ability to concentrate and communicate and to actively participate in play, school and employment.
Unfortunately Eoghan’s story is not uncommon. Anne Rynne (Letters, January 18th) writes about her adult son, left lying in bed for a year.
There are approximately 40,000 individuals in the Republic who use wheelchairs and without this essential equipment they cannot survive. A wheelchair enables a person to sit up and be mobile; it is an essential primary need. It becomes part of a person’s skin, their legs, In research I have conducted, one person has described when the wheelchair is not right or when it breaks down as “like cutting my two legs off”.
While wheelchair services in Ireland have grown over the years, they lack regulation and are without specific government policy to ensure timely and appropriate delivery.
I would like to think if anything happened to me, my child, my family or my friends that I could pick up the phone and know I could get a wheelchair without waiting 12 months.
This human rights issue is relevant to the whole of society, and a national review of wheelchair services is called for. – Yours, etc,
Ennis, Co Clare.