This Is My Life National Press Release


Call on new government to support better lives for people with spinal cord injury and their families

“This is My Life” Awareness Programme to visit 10 cities & towns in May


People living with a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) in Ireland are calling on the new government to deliver on improved services for people with a spinal cord injury and their families. 1,800 people in Ireland live with a SCI which is acknowledged by the World Health Organisation as one of the most devastating and life changing injuries that a person can sustain.  Today (Wednesday 11th May 2016), the Mayor of Galway City Cllr. Frank Fahy became the first person in Ireland to sign Spinal Injuries Ireland’s pledge to support better lives for people with a SCI and their families.

Spinal Injuries Ireland (SII) were in Galway for the first event in their nationwide “This is My Life” Awareness Programme, supported by Coloplast, which will visit ten towns and cities around Ireland over the next two weeks (see dates, locations, venues and timings below). SII says that a louder voice is needed for those living with a SCI and is reaching out to people with an SCI, their families, friends and health services professionals to build a community which will influence change and improve supports and services. They are asking people nationwide to sign their pledge.  See

In a survey carried out in April 2016, SII identified huge gaps in the pathway of care for people from delays in services to inadequate or lack of services and poor education for healthcare professions. “Rehabilitation is acknowledged as the poor relation of the health service, “says Fiona Bolger, Chief Executive Officer, Spinal Injuries Ireland (SII) “and despite promises by previous administrations, there has been no progress.  People with a SCI have identified ten key issues that impact on their lives from transport to health to employment* and we request that the new government moves services much further up the list of priorities.  While we very much welcome the building of a new National Rehabilitation Hospital, a new physical space does not mean new, improved services particularly when people return to home to their own community.”

“A spinal cord injury is regarded as one of the most devastating injuries that a person can sustain. It is of real concern that more than half of people with such injuries feel the medical staff entrusted with their care in the community do not have the right experience to manage their condition. It is critical that access to essential services is universal and consistent across the country. Coloplast is working with Spinal Injuries Ireland to visit 10 towns and cities across Ireland, talking with patients, their families and healthcare professionals to raise awareness of the needs of this community.” Ulrik Berthelsen, General Manager, UK & Ireland.

*The 10 key issues of those living with a spinal cord injury include:

  • The serious delays for some newly injured patients in accessing rehabilitation – in some cases, patients are transferred back to a regional hospital to wait for a bed at the NRH;
  • Some young people with an SCI are living in ICU in regional hospitals or nursing homes as care packages are not available to them to live independently;
  • There are no rehab facilities in Ireland for those who need to be ventilated. These high level injuries often experience long waits to received rehabilitation in the UK or Northern Ireland. Once rehab is completed, patients are often re-admitted to the acute hospital or to a regional hospital whilst waiting on care packages;
  • 60% of people do not feel that hospital and medical staff in the community have enough knowledge and experience of managing someone with an SCI;
  • 40% of people with an SCI are not comfortable with their bowel management in regional hospitals;
  • 76% of people with an SCI are unemployed – they are excluded from back-to-work schemes;
  • 40% of people with an SCI live on or below the poverty line;
  • 58% of people with an SCI feel that their Personal Assistants/Carers do not have sufficient training to deal with their needs;
  • Wheelchair users have to give 24 hours’ notice to travel by train or bus;
  • 54% of those with an SCI do not feel they receive adequate counselling in the community and 48% do not feel they receive adequate physiotherapy.


“This is My Life” Awareness Programme:

Location:             Date:                                     Venue:                                                                 Time:

Galway                 11th May                               The Galway Bay Hotel, Salthill                      6.30pm

Sligo                     12th May                                Radisson Blu Hotel                                       6.30pm

Waterford              16th May                               The Woodlands hotel                                    6.30pm

Cork                      17th May                               The Clarion Hotel                                           6.30pm

Tralee                   18th May                               The Rose Hotel                                              6.30pm

Limerick                19th May                               Kilmurry Lodge                                               6.30pm

Letterkenny           23rd May                              Radisson Blu,                                                  6.30pm

Portlaoise              24th May                              The Maldron Hotel                                          6.30pm

Dundalk                25th May                               Crowne Plaza Hotel                                       6.30pm

Dublin                   26th May                               The Maldron Hotel, Tallaght                          6.30pm


To sign the pledge to support better lives for people with spinal cord injury and their families click here.

For further information on the “This is My Life” Awareness Programme and on support services available to those with an SCI, please visit

twitter: @spinalireland #thisismylife

For further information on Coloplast, please see


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