A disabled woman from Bonnyrigg, who lost a leg following a toe infection, is urging Midlothian Council to upgrade her home to suit her needs.
Despite support from local MSP Colin Beattie and Council leader Derek Milligan, Valerie Osey (54) remains confined to her downstairs sitting room and forced to wash in the kitchen sink. The local authority has repeatedly rejected her calls to fit a ramp, stairlift and wet room at her Dalhousie Place home, where she has lived for 30 years.
Valerie was taken to hospital last December with an infection in her toe. Due to ongoing diabetes issues she eventually lost her right leg.
She said: “I came out of hospital in May. Since then I have been living in the sitting room downstairs with a chemical toilet. I also can’t get up the stairs to have a shower. I have to wash myself at the sink.
“Four times I have applied to the council for my home to be made disabled-friendly, but they have refused.
“They just say it’s not cost effective – making the adaptations to the house for me to then leave when I’m older.
“The council wants me to move to a ground floor flat. It looks like we are going to have to because I can’t live how I’m living at the moment. I’m disgusted at the way they have treated me. It’s just not fair.
“I feel they are going to make me move. How many times can you keep appealing? It’s driving me crazy and making me ill.”
Valerie, who lives in the two-storey house with her husband Alex, added: “When I go to hospital I have to get an ambulance as they need two people to come in and pick me up.
“A couple of weeks ago I fell out my bed and hurt my hip. Luckily it wasn’t broken. We waited from 3.45pm to 12.45am that night for an ambulance. It’s not their fault, they’re busy, and they kept phoning me every hour to check on me. But come that time in the morning we just said forget about it.
“If I had the ramp my husband could have taken me no problem at all. And I hate to think of them coming to pick me up which could mean they would then miss getting to someone else who really needs an ambulance.”
Valerie and Alex have looked into making the alterations themselves. She said: “My husband phoned a company for a stairlift and they quoted £4-5,000. I don’t know how much it would be for a ramp. A wet room is not essential because we can get a seat which goes across the bath. Obviously once we get a stairlift it would get me up the stairs to the bathroom.”
Valerie’s friend Lynda Armstrong is currently fundraising to help out. Setting up an online fundraiser at www.gofundme.com/help-val-get-out-and-about.
She said: “While Val was still in hospital I started an online fundraiser for her, thinking we could raise money for a wee mobility scooter to get her out and about.
“So far it has reached £600 but the way things are going we will need to raise lots more, as Midlothian Council refuses point blank to do anything to help her to stay safe and comfortable in her own home.”
Derek Milligan told the Advertiser that he was pursuing the case, adding that “doing nothing is not good enough”.
Colin Beattie MSP added: “I am keen to get a resolution to this for her. The council has offered to meet her to discuss this further.”
A Midlothian Council spokesman said: “The council does assess if an existing property can be adapted to fit the long term needs of the person and his or her ability to operate equipment like stairlifts safely. If a cost-effective solution cannot be identified, alternative housing may be the only viable solution.
“In these cases, Health and Social Care will be unable to support a major adaptation to the existing property.”