I am glad of the opportunity to raise this at such short notice. Recently, I met a family from Killarney, Steve O'Mahony, his wife, Teresa, and their daughter, Alexis. I want to raise an issue on their behalf. We discussed a cut that has been made to disability funding. This cut was not made by the HSE or the Department of Health. It is the removal of funding for ceiling track hoists from housing adaptation grants. Alexis is six years old next week. She has cerebral palsy, quadriplegia, subluxation of her right hip and a high risk of aspiration, that is food or drink going in to her lungs. Alexis is completely dependent for her daily care. She requires constant repositioning for washing and to prevent injury, and she needs two people to hoist her.
The Minister of State will be aware of housing adaptation grants. Kerry County Council has a budget of €3 million to spend on housing adaptation grants, which help our elderly and disabled family members, making life easier for them living in the community. Grants are available to make repairs or improvements to their homes. According to a letter received last month by Mr. Steve O'Mahony, in September 2020 the Department of Housing, Heritage and Local Government informed local authorities that ceiling hoists should not be included in the housing adaptation grant. Since then, most local authorities no longer provide funding for the provision of the hoist itself although they may fund the structural works, that is, to place hoist tracks in the ceilings. Mr. O'Mahony had raised this issue in July last year and he was told by the Department that departmental officials were engaging with the HSE. That was in July. Again, in September, following a question, he learned that officials were still engaging with the HSE.
While these discussions take place, however, those with disabilities, their carers and their families are suffering. Steve, Teresa and Alexis have a quotation for €5,000 for the provision and supply of a ceiling track hoist. According to Alexis's occupational therapist, OT, a hoist will improve the efficiency of lifting, improve Alexis's quality of care, require fewer caregivers, decrease her care needs and reduce physical discomfort and injury to her five-year-old body parts. It facilitates more time to her parents to provide care for their child. Alexis has other equipment needs that occupy a lot of floor space and, as she grows, it is highly recommended, again by the occupational therapist, that a ceiling hoist will ensure comfortable mobility and a dignified experience for Alexis and her carers. It will give this family a break. This is essential for this family.
Families like the O'Mahonys are already struggling with the physical, mental and financial costs of care. There is, according to the OT, a risk of a high incidence of musculoskeletal injuries among caregivers. Teresa, Alexis's mother, already has back injuries as a result. Decisions like these, or the lack of a decision in this case, exacerbates and compounds their struggles. I am asking the Minister of State to make a decision that basic fairness to this family and fairness to people with disabilities demands. Their home is ready to go. Will the Minister of State reverse the decision, please, and allow funding for these essential works from housing grants?