Edinburgh gran and granddaughter 'forced to share bed' and 'can't get down stairs'

An Edinburgh gran is pleading with the council to find her a new home after she was forced to share a bed with her severely disabled granddaughter in a one-bed flat.

Roseanne Docherty, 63, took over the care of Sophie Docherty, 16, two years ago and since then the two have been trapped in the tiny property at Cameron Park.

The loving granny says her wheelchair-bound granddaughter defied all the odds to reach 16 after doctors gave her just a week when she was born with hydrocephalus - a condition that means Sophie is missing part of her brain, is blind and has severe mobility issues.

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Roseanne says she has been pleading with the council to find them a new home that is wheelchair accessible and has a spare room that can fit a hospital bed which Sophie requires.

At the moment, the pair are forced to share a normal double bed, which she says is damaging to both their health, with Roseanne living with rheumatoid arthritis.

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The pair are also trapped in the home as the property is not wheelchair accessible and they have to rely on 70-year-old neighbour James McCall to come and bump Sophie down the stairs at 7.15am every morning for school before bumping her back up at around 4pm when she returns.

Recently Sophie also had posterior spinal fusion six weeks ago due to her spine lurching into her lungs which left her surgeon penning a letter that described their current housing situation as ‘totally unsuitable’ for her needs.

“Sophie has been in a wheelchair since birth,” Roseanne said. “When she was born they said she would only live for about a week and that we should take her home and let nature run its course.

“She was born with hydrocephalus which means she is missing part of her brain, is blind and she has severe mobility issues as well as learning difficulties. Sophie recently had to undergo spinal surgery as her spine had begun to curve into her lungs and without it, she would have been left with severe breathing difficulties.

“I’ve been her primary carer for over two years now but I live in constant fear of injuring her or making her condition worse due to our living conditions. The house is not wheelchair accessible and due to my arthritis I have to rely on my godsend neighbour James to bump her up and down each day, twice a day, I do not know what we would do without him.

“Since her surgery the doctor has advised that she should not be lifted or bumped up as it could lead to the curvature coming back and her requiring surgery again. But that is the only way we can get her into the home.

“At the moment we only have one bedroom in the house with Sophie and I having to share a bed. She is supposed to have specialist equipment and sleep in a hospital bed but it cannot fit into the house.

“We do not have the correct washing facilities either and she has to be showered when she goes to school - we need a walk-in shower. Occupational therapist, nurses and all the specialists have been out and they all agree that we need a new home.

“My MP Tommy Sheppard has been on the case with the council but we feel like we are trapped in the house. After her surgery the surgeon wrote a letter detailing why she cannot be lifted or bumped and they said that our housing was not suitable to meet her needs.”

Roseanne says that the problem has began to depress her and that the situation is getting to them both. She says that without the help of their “brilliant neighbours” their life would be so much worse.

Roseanne is currently a Forthview housing association tenant, and she has praised her landlords for trying to support them but she says they do not have suitable housing to move her into.

The gran says she has been locked in a battle with her local authority who so far have only come up with two homes that did not fit their needs - one in Morningside that did not have a room big enough for a hospital bed and was not wheelchair accessible and one in Warriston that was also not wheelchair accessible.

“It is degrading for her and is heartbreaking for me,” Roseanne continued. “Some nights she will say nana you are not getting in my bed and it is a shame because we are stuck in this tiny room together.

“We cannot manage at the moment but if we had a place that could fit her equipment then we could cope no bother. The properties they offered us before would just put us back to square one.

“We keep being told we have a priority but we are getting nowhere despite biding for wheelchair accessible houses. I feel ignored and abandoned by the council.

“They’ve not been helpful whatsoever. I feel like she has been discharged from the hospital and they just expect her to get on with it.”

SNP MP Tommy Sheppard’s office has said that they have contacted the council on multiple occasions to raise the issue and to plead for Roseanne and Sophie to be given a new home.

It is understood however that the council has yet to respond to the MP’s request.

MP Sheppard said: “Roseanne’s situation is incredibly clear cut. She needs a home that can accommodate her family’s needs and it’s obvious that she needs this now.

“I approached the council weeks ago to request urgent action and I’m dismayed that there’s been no progress since. The Council needs to act to support Roseanne’s granddaughter, it simply can’t wait any longer.”

Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work Convener, Councillor Jane Meagher, apologised to Roseanne and assured efforts are underway to help the family.

She added: “I’m really sorry to hear about this and can understand how stressful it must be for Mrs Docherty. We’re aware of her granddaughter’s needs and have awarded her Gold priority to reflect this.

“I know our officers are doing everything possible to encourage Mrs Docherty to bid on homes which fit her granddaughter’s needs. However, I appreciate this can be hard when we have such a chronic shortage of homes and growing waiting times due to exceptional housing demand.”

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