Saturday, September 15, 2018

The road to nowhere



The challenges of organisations 'joining dots'.
My main challenge I am experiencing is to have the HSE Disability Services "join the dots" among their departments.  For All of them I am registered as disabled, except for part of the Disability Services... 
But THAT is a story for another day.


This story is about the HSE and the County Council and contractors, not always joining dots...

In February my manual wheelchair was being serviced. The Occupational Therapist (O.T)  was informed that I really needed to have my chair replaced. It was eleven years old.
I am hugely grateful for the expertise of the O.T. and the Rep for how they managed to create a chair for me which would support my body much better, which would allow me to leave the house more easily, to find a chair which would fit in my little house, a chair which can be dismantled for transport and which is both a manual and powered chair. 
No mean feat!

One of the concerns of the O.T. and Rep and many others whom have seen me using the existing ramp to my front door, was the gradient. The ramp was put in ten years ago, and has always been too steep. While I used a mobility scooter, it was just about manageable. Not safe, but manageable. But I was not allowed to go up or down this ramp when the new wheelchair would arrive.

Due to more physical challenges I have not been able to use my mobility scooter since October 2017, and have therefor not left my house independently since that time.

So, I contacted the County Council (I live in a council owned house) to request a new ramp. 
I rang in February, and was asked to write a letter.
I wrote a letter and received an application form in the post, without any accompanying note.
I filled in the application form, which also needed to be signed by my GP.
The O.T. wrote to the council as well.

I came up with a plan which would be the least damaging to my beloved garden. It did mean taking out one of the apple trees. A new ramp could be made around the other apple tree, and have a new wider entrance made.

In March the council engineer came to have a look.
I was away for the puppet travel, and when I came back in April I contacted the council again to get the ball rolling again. Or to get it rolling at all...

In April two council engineers came out and did all the measurements. I sat outside on my rolator to talk about my suggestions. They seem to understand.
When I saw the drawings I cried.
The drawings were designed as if the ramp was for a commercial building. Straight paths, landing squares, railings on both sides. And most upsetting of all was that the ramp was designed straight through the area where my beloved apple tree is.
The whole design made me feel vulnerable. As if it was saying: "look, here lives a person with a disability..."
Thank goodness they listened and redesigned part of the ramp. Then, three quotes were needed for the council to decide who was going to do the job... and if the job would be done at all...

The O.T. is facilitating a chair which would increase my independence but the council could not guarantee that a suitable ramp would be made.

My wheelchair arrived around the middle of June.
It took until the end of August before the go-ahead was given by the council to build the ramp. All along I made clear to the council that if they did not do the job, I would get someone to break through the wall and make the new entrance. Not allowed, but they knew I was serious. I needed to be free to leave my house.

Two weeks ago the job started.
And to my great relief the builder and his main man who did most of the work, respected my garden, and suggested to create a more gentler shaped ramp. 
I was, and am over the moon. It is beautiful. 

First they had to take away part of the old ramp. A noise affair.



And remove a section of the stone wall

Extiment when the 'Concrete' truck came
 

And I could see the beginnings of my new escape route

The following morning was a BIG day.
I had my first (and last for now...) spin out of my house, in my chair, down the ramp, onto the street, and up the ramp again.

What a memorable moment.
After ten months of being confined to my house, unless 'escapes' were aided by friends.




I loved how the Apple Tree was saved and respected. How it creates an arch over my new 'run-way'. The "Yellow-Brick-Road" although not yellow. (yet)



Unfortunately that is where the fun ended.
The road to nowhere 
After two beautiful pillars were build, the workman left on the Friday . 
The builder (boss) was suppose to come back after the weekend, to hang the gates, and to put up the one safety railing.
The work week has come and gone.
No gate.

Instead there is a temporary sheet of plywood attached by a rope to the apple tree. This will keep dogs and unwanted strangers out of my garden. (I feel more secure not have this part open to anyone, as I can't see who might walk around my house.)

It has also left me inside my house/garden, as I can't move this heavy sheet.

My friend Anne suggested to build the sides of the ramp up with rocks (from part of the wall) to stop the soil from the now higher raised bed falling or washing onto the path. She did an amazing job.
singed!
The whole job was done with so much care and attention - suppervised by Póilin Puppet and visiting neighbour cat Pip. My garden is more open, more spacious, the road to freedom will hopefully be completed soon.

I just find it hard to understand when one is So aware of what this new ramps means to me, to freedom it will give me, to then not come and do the finishing touches.

I will give thanks to the builder in the hope that the comes to complete a beautiful and meaningful project, soon. Monday... To "join the dots".
Pip and Póilin

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