herald

Tuesday 25 June 2019

'Dad-of-two left paralysed after charity bike ride fall is now facing bill of €250k'

Declan Naughton with his wife Louise and sons Cillian (12) and seven-year-old Callum
Declan Naughton with his wife Louise and sons Cillian (12) and seven-year-old Callum

A Kildare mum whose husband was paralysed in a cycling accident seven months ago has revealed it will cost the family €250,000 to specially adapt their home.

Louise Naughton (44) said the couple weren't entitled to a home adaptation grant, based on their previous earnings, despite their dramatically changed circumstances.

Her husband Declan (45), an area bank manager, was taking part in a charity ride when the accident happened on June 15 last year.

"At about 10.30 that morning, I got a call that he had come off the bike," said Louise.

It emerged that Declan, who is a proud dad to Cillian (12) and Callum (7), had fractured and dislocated two vertebrae, which has left him paralysed from his chest down.

Declan has been undergoing intense physiotherapy and occupational therapy as an inpatient at the National Rehabilitation Centre in Dun Laoghaire, following three months at the Mater Hospital.

Phenomenal

Louise stressed that the care her husband had received from the health service had been "phenomenal", while their local community in Celbridge and their families had also given them great support.

But she told how she had faced a "soul-destroying" time dealing with bureaucracy over other issues.

"You have to chase and chase and chase everyone and everything," she said.

"That is the same for a lot of people. You are just a number. That is how I feel. I know the services are coping with a huge volume of people, but all you want is a bit of help."

The Naughtons were turned down for a home adaptation grant by Kildare County Council, despite needing to do substantial work to their home, including making it wheelchair-accessible.

"To qualify for the housing adaptation grant, you cannot have earned more than €60,000 in the previous tax year," Louise said.

She said the family were totally fine before the accident. "We didn't have a worry in the world," she added.

They are also still awaiting the green light from the council to enable work to begin on their home under the planning permission process, and Louise said they had to pay €5,000 in a local amenity contribution.

The couple also faced an anxious wait to find out when their HSE homecare package would be approved so that carers can come into their home and assist when Declan is discharged. Thankfully, that came through at the beginning of January.

"I have always worked, Declan has always worked. We have contributed to the economy," Louise added.

"But when the chips are down and you need a bit of help, it is just not there for you. You feel so let down.

Active

"We want to be a family in our home. It is about getting us back together.

"I have been without my husband for seven months. We need the care in place for him.

"Prior to the accident, Declan was so active. He was in the gym five to six times a week."

He also did football coaching for Celbridge GAA Club up to under-13s. But Louise said her husband was "determined" and a very strong person.

She believes that the system should be more streamlined to assist people in accessing support, because there is no one-stop shop at the moment.

Kildare County Council said it did not comment on individual applications.

The HSE also said it couldn't comment on individual cases, but it did say it was "fully committed to supporting people with a disability to return home, or to remain at home, where this is their or their family wish".

Fundraising efforts for the family have led to €71,000 being donated so far.

To donate, go to gofundme.com/doingthisfordeclan

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