Northern Ireland

MS sufferer fights attempts to put her in nursing home

A 42-year-old MS sufferer has said she is shocked at attempts by her health trust to put her into a nursing home.

Elaine Kennedy needs a significant amount of care in her home, but the agency that provides it says they can no longer do it.

Until last week the Bluebird Care agency - based in Coleraine - supplied carers four times a day.

When Elaine tried to get the time they spent with her increased they cancelled altogether.

Elaine said the Northern Health Trust - which has overall responsibility for her care - then suggested she go into a nursing home.

"I'm just too young to go into a care home. My illness doesn't dictate that I'm at that stage - and even if it's just temporary we're so close to Christmas and I have my children at home. How can I leave them? I just don't want to be in a nursing facility," she said.

Elaine Kennedy was diagnosed with MS in 2004 and unfortunately her condition has deteriorated leaving her in a wheelchair.

Her 18-year-old daughter lives with her in their rented bungalow - and any move to a nursing home would also leave her daughter homeless.

"They're saying they have no care. The interim care for the past few days was a nursing facility which can't continue," she said.

"They are looking to provide a tea time call for tonight but, I may have to go to bed when they call because they don't know if they have anyone on Wednesday or from tomorrow morning onwards - they can't tell me that yet.

"They're continuing to look but they've been looking for three weeks.

"I feel stranded and stressed, the toll it's taking."

The BBC contacted the Bluebird Agency but it said it had no comment to make.

Care package

We also asked the Northern Health Trust for a statement.

Image caption Mrs Kennedy's mother Helen Sloan said the uncertainty was putting enormous pressure on the rest of the family

"Mrs Kennedy has an extensive and wide ranging package of care in place. A range of care agencies have provided care to Mrs Kennedy over the last eight years unfortunately some of these arrangements have broken down and the care providers have withdrawn," the statement said.

"Most recently this has affected the final evening call. We understand Mrs Kennedy does not consider the overall package acceptable. We will continue to work with Mrs Kennedy to provide a necessary level of support and care."

Mrs Kennedy's mother Helen Sloan said the stress is putting enormous pressure on the rest of the family - in particular 18-year-old Lucy.

"She gets a lot of it now, especially since her brother is at university. She's at college and she's trying to hold down a part-time job, but I find that very often Lucy will have to go to bed in tears. She talks to me about things and she asks 'what's going to happen to Mummy' and that's just unfair."

Elaine is angry that it has come this.

"The health minister is proposing transforming care for people in their own homes, to allow people to remain at home for longer. And for people with long-term illnesses - not to have to go into care homes," she said.

"But the care is not available on the ground to support that. And yet the trust mission statement is to provide the quality of care for everyone that they would expect for their own families and I feel very let down that I'm not receiving that care."