In 2011, Declan O’Shea from Kilmihill, Co Clare sustained a C6/C7 spinal cord injury while on holiday in Portugal. Although his injury is a high-level injury he has 90% use of his arms, but he has been wheelchair bound since 2011.
In the years following his injury, Declan decided to build his own house in Co Clare to ensure better accessibility for himself and his family.
While reading a copy of SIIs Spinal News magazine one day, he saw an advertisement for different types of grants that are available to people with spinal cord injuries on the back page of the magazine.
Declan had linked in with Spinal Injuries Ireland’s (SII) Community Outreach Officer Philippa O’Leary when he was discharged from hospital in 2012 and as a result he asked her how he would go about applying for a grant to fund building an accessible bathroom in his new home.
“I was always in regular contact with Philippa so I asked her about the grants that I might be entitled to. I wanted to see what she thought would work best for me. She was great and advised me that the Hospital Saturday Fund (HSF) would be the best one for me to apply for in relation to building my accessible bathroom.”
The HSF provides grants and assistance to people with a medical condition or disability who would benefit from assistance with the purchase of specialised equipment or from practical forms of treatment.
Philippa organised all the paperwork that goes along with applying for a HSF grant, filled out all of the forms and organised the whole process for Declan to ensure everything was done on time and in the best way.
“Philippa did it all for me really, she was a fantastic help. I didn’t have to wait too long to hear back and about three months later I got the news that I was awarded a grant of €1,000 to go towards building my accessible bathroom.
“The €1,000 covered the cost of the bathroom and it was a brilliant bonus to get as I was building a completely new house. The grant covered the cost of the lifting bars and everything else that I needed in the bathroom so it was great.”
Declan explained that the grant funding came at a great time as he has a young family and costs were adding up.
“The grant really did help. I didn’t know anything about these types of grants. I was simply flicking through the Spinal News magazine one day and came across it. I’d really recommend to anyone thinking about carrying out building works in their house or trying to avail of any types of mobility aids, to consider the different types of grants available to them and ask a member of SII how to apply for them. SIIs Community Outreach Officers are great and will always help in any way they can when it comes to applying for these grants. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”