20 week wait for assessment ‘unacceptable’

Joyce Joyce is still waiting for a visit from an occupational therapist
Joyce Joyce is still waiting for a visit from an occupational therapist

A Kirkcaldy pensioner has told how she has been waiting for more than 20 weeks for a visit from an occupational therapist.

And Mrs Joyce Joyce (68), says the delay in getting to see someone about having a wet room installed in her Poplar Crescent home for her and her husband Thomas (67), who both have a range of debilitating conditions, has left her stressed, upset and “at the end of her tether.”

Now David Torrance MSP for Kirkcaldy has stepped in to try to get something done for the couple, stressing that their wait has been “unacceptable.”

Mrs Joyce, a former Asda supermarket worker, was forced to retire from her job almost ten years ago because of recurring problems with her back which she has suffered from for many years.

She now has advanced osteoporosis and struggles to walk any distance, as she is in constant pain from her neck down to her waist and the condition also affects her arms, which she cannot lift above neck height.

Her husband used to help with her personal care, but he has become increasingly ill over the past few months due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, meaning Mrs Joyce struggles to wash and dress herself.

The couple’s bathroom has a three-quarter bath which she finds very difficult to get in and out of because she cannot kneel on one leg which has had the knee replaced on, and she has to undertake a complex and dangerous manoeuvre to get in and out of the water, in constant fear that she will fall over.

“All I want is for a wet room to be put in so I can just walk in and have a proper wash,” she explained.

She said she first began calling Fife Council’s social work department at the beginning of May and on May 22 was told she would receive a visit within ten weeks.

She received another letter on August 8 stating that contact would be made within four weeks, then an identical letter was sent out on September 2.

In his letter Mr Torrance said: “I would be most grateful if you could look into this matter and clarify the reasons why an Occupational Therapy Team has not yet visited the property.

“This would appear to be an exceptional length of time to wait for an initial visit from the Occupational Therapy Team.”

Julie Paterson, service manager said: “Ms Joyce contacted social work in May and the occupational therapy service assessed her case as a moderate priority, which would normally lead to a home visit in about 10 weeks. Unfortunately we’ve been dealing with a lot of high priority cases recently.

“We must target our resources to those at greatest risk and in most need, but we updated Ms Joyce on the situation in mid August and have recently written to her to let her know which occupational therapist has been allocated to her case.

“A visit is due to be arranged and we will assess her need for adaptations as part of this process.”