By David Raleigh
The father of a severely disabled boy has made a fresh impassioned plea for help to adapt his house to suit the special needs of his son.
Four year old Shane Enright was born 15 weeks premature weighing a mere 845 grammes.
At six weeks old doctors discovered a bleed on his brian which was covered in cysts.
At eight weeks Shane was diagnosed with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, and he has little or no muscle control in his hands and legs.
Last weekend he was diagnosed with scoliosis and a trapped nerve on his spine.
Shane moves around his home, in Templeathea, West Limerick, on his knees, and, on a wheelchair.
His father Richard Enright applied to Limerick City and County Council for a €30,000 Housing Adaptation Grant for Disabled Persons - but he was informed he would be entitled to only €15,400 after a means test analysis was carried out.
Mr Enright said he earns an annual salary of approximately €35,000 and his wife Caroline, who is her son’s full time carer, receives a weekly careers allowance of €117.
The distraught couple said they cannot afford to meet the estimated €70,000-€80,000 to adapt their home.
Shane’s occupational therapist has recommended he needs a wet room with a special hoist to lift him into a bath; a store room for his medical equipment; and a larger bedroom.
Richard, who suffers with chronic arthritis and works from home, said he was literally “begging” for help.
Appealing to tradespeople to help them adapt their house, he said: “We are desperate. We cannot make up the shortfall. We are in an appalling situation.”
Becoming frustrated with their situation, he added: “I am being penalised for wanting to continue to work. I’ve been told that I’ll get more money if I give up work and claim for more benefits. This is crazy.”
“Shane’s health is deteriorating. All we want to do is provide for him. He will have a lot of operations to face and he needs proper facilities at home.”
After the family first public appealed for help last month they were contacted by “plasterers and tilers” offering their services free of charge.
Thankful to the construction workers for their response, Mr Enright has now called on others to help them get their son’s extension built as soon as possible.
“We need more tradespeople to be able to put it up. We cant afford it. I'm begging for help,” he added.
Mr Enright wrote to the Finian McGrath, the Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, in October 2017, but only received a response last month.
The minister stated he had “no role to play” in applications for housing adaptation grants for the disabled.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said, “the detailed administration of the Housing Adaptation Grants for people with a disability, including the assessment, approval and payment of individual grants to applicants, is the responsibility of the relevant local authority.”
She added the framework for the operation of the scheme “is designed to give an appropriate degree of flexibility to local authorities in its administration”.
“It is entirely a matter for the Council to prioritise applications on the basis of the medical needs of the applicant and on the urgency and necessity of the identified works and to ensure that the available funding is targeted to those most in need,” she added.
A spokesman for the Council stated: “We do not comment on individual cases but we are bound by a means test scale set by the Department of the Environment, Housing and Local Government and apply maximum grant aid when allowed."
In a separate response for a request for comment, the HSE in Limerick stated: “Unfortunately we cannot comment further on specific details other than to note that housing / building / alterations is a matter for the local council.”
“In respect of other issues the HSE is appropriately doing everything possible to support the family,” it added.
The family have set up a gofundme online fundraising page to help them finance the adaptation of their home for Shane's needs. It has currently raised over €3,000 of a €40,000 goal.