Four months living in mum’s conservatory for Ramsgate wheelchair user due to no suitable property for medical needs

Sam and Nathan before she became ill

A Ramsgate woman diagnosed as suffering from functional neurological disorder (FND) and needing to use a wheelchair has spent four months living in her mother’s conservatory because no suitable housing has been found.

Samantha Pearse, 27, became unwell in January, losing feeling in her hands and legs, suffering limb weakness, cognitive delay and collapsing due to a loss of motor skills.

The Dover custody officer, who is currently unable to work, has been enduring extreme temperatures in the conservatory, up to 48 degrees last week, and has no access to bathroom and washing facilities because she cannot navigate access to the rest of the house.

Sam was living in a flat in Ramsgate with her partner Nathan Coade and their two dogs but having to use the wheelchair means she cannot get to the flat and it is also too small for the hospital bed, a Sara Stedy to aid her transfers out of bed or on/off the commode or wheelchair.

Samantha is fully dependent on the support from others and says she is distressed at the sparsity of rehabilitation care and at being trapped in her mum’s conservatory.

She said: “At the end of January I began to get pins and needles and my legs would go dead. Then I was struggling to get out the sofa and my legs would give way so that I collapsed. I went to A&E and they did blood tests and an MRI and I was in there 48 hours.”

The MRI came back clear for ‘mechanical’ faults and Samantha was waiting to see a neurologist. After several days of being unable to get out of bed she ended up back in A&E.

She said: “At this point I couldn’t stand at all and was in a wheelchair.

Sam was transferred to the neuro ward at Kent & Canterbury Hospital but says she wasn’t given physio until her mum requested it.

Samantha said: “I was diagnosed with FND at the beginning of March and within four days was sent home. There wasn’t a home assessment and my mum didn’t have any of the equipment I needed.”

The hospital then provide the bed and other items and Samantha was discharged to her mum’s Minster home.

Samantha says this week was the first physio session provided by the NHS since being home although she and Nathan have paid for a private neuro physio. The onset of the illness has been due to mental trauma rather than physical reasons.

Nathan and Samantha say one of the hardest things to cope with is not being able to find a two-bed home suitable for her medical needs and rehabilitation.

An occupational therapy report from Kent County Council lists a number of requirements, including level access, kitchen and bathroom adaptions and space for the necessary hospital equipment.

The report adds: “Due a deterioration in her health, Miss Samantha Pearse is currently living in her parents’ conservatory space as she is not able to access her own home. Within her parents home she does not have access to appropriate toileting or bathing facilities, access to the family social spaces or safe and appropriate access / egress from the building. Miss Pearse has to tolerate inappropriate living conditions of extreme heat and cold and is unable to transfer safely from this area.

“Due to Miss Pearse’s current living environment and functional needs, she is considered to be in critical need of rehousing.”

Samantha said: “There is just nothing that we are eligible for. My mental health has deteriorated drastically. I don’t have any alone time as I always need someone there to help me so I have no time to process the things that are happening.

“The heat in the conservatory is a big problem. It has got so hot that it is painful and I have cried and I’ve always been the type of person that doesn’t cry.

“The only things that have come up are for over 55s, so I’m not eligible, or Kennedy or Trove courts which are no good I the lift breaks.”

Partner Nathan, who is being Samantha’s carer and working as a courier driver, says the couple are ‘at breaking point.”

He said: “Having FND has changed Sam’s life. She was a super bubbly, adventurous, social and outgoing person before all of this. She now suffers with extreme anxiety when she goes out with fear of people looking at her in a wheelchair, and is a complete shadow of her former self.

“She is suffering horrendously with her mental health which is being made so much worse living in the conservatory as she feels like she is a burden, in the way, and has no privacy.

“It’s so horrible to see her change completely. I just feel useless as there is nothing more we can do now to get us our own home and get her back with me and the dogs.”

Determined Sam has managed to take eight steps this week for the first time since she became ill but the rehabilitation journey will be lengthy.

‘More support’

A spokesman for East Kent Hospitals said: “We’re sorry to hear of Ms Pearse’s situation. When she left hospital, community services, including physiotherapy and district nursing teams, have been providing support. The teams are contacting the family and will work alongside them to establish if there is any more support they need from health or social care.”

Thanet council says Sam’s housing need is ‘the highest possible priority.”

‘Highest priority’

A Thanet council spokesperson said: “We are not able to comment about the details of individual cases, however, we are aware of Mrs Pearse’s needs and her application for a transfer to a more suitable home has been given the highest possible priority.

“We work closely with Kent County Council’s Occupational Therapy team and will ensure that any accommodation that we are able to offer Mrs Pearce will be suitable for her needs. At this stage in the process it is not possible to give an exact timeframe for the transfer.”

Housing pressures

There are currently 1,691 applicants on Thanet council’s  housing register. There are 181 households in temporary accommodation, with 96 of these housed  outside Thanet.

Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Jill Bayford said: “Demand for accommodation is high and we anticipate that it will continue to rise in the short term due to a range of factors including the cost of living crisis, rising costs in the private rented sector, and courts clearing their backlog of eviction notices.

“We will continue to work as hard as we can to support families and individuals with housing needs in our district.”

Find FND Hope online here

19 Comments

  1. The reason why housing waiting list is so high is because TDC has always wasted money on other things like pay offs to staff.if they had setup a housing trust where the housing stock would be placed in a trust and income from housing would then either go towards near flats or houses or repairs…since they keep housing stock within TDC things will never change in Thanet

  2. What are Functional Neurological Disorders (FND’s)
    Functional Neurological Disorders (FND’s) is the name given for symptoms in the body which appear to be caused by problems in the nervous system but which are not caused by a physical neurological disease or disorder. Health professionals sometimes call these disorders ‘medically unexplained’, psychosomatic or somatisation. We prefer the term ‘functional’ which just means that the body is not functioning quite as it should.
    FNDs are quite common, occurring in about one quarter of the patients we see in our neurology clinics. For most people these symptoms are short-lived, but for others they persist for months or years and are very disabling. Symptoms tend to change with time, and as a result patients may often repeatedly consult their doctors for advice or investigation. Many doctors also find these conditions puzzling, and patients may find that they become frustrated by the shortage of information about why these symptoms occur and what to do about them.

  3. the people that voted conservative are starting to reap what they sow ( no reference to this poor woman ) just look around at the mess this countrys in

  4. So sorry Sam to hear you have FND. You were brilliant looking after my daughter at nursery all those years ago and she’s never forgotten you. Wishing you all the best for your recovery xx

  5. For anyone interested Insight Healthcare have CBT therapists who can support you with FND (for free). You can self refer online if needed. It can help in coming to terms with the changes to your lifestyle/ cope with living with the symptoms and also treat any underlying trauma if that has been a trigger for FND.

  6. The real problem here is the total lack of any physiotherapy on a frequent and regular basis.Try to get your GP or the NHS to refer you to the “Ramsgate Hub” in Northwood Road.

    Housing is a more difficult issue. Successive Tory regimes have stopped councils building (& Tony Blair’s one wasn’t much better).Until we get back to having rented housing publically owned and publically run, there’s not much hope for tenants with serious disabilities!

  7. Face facts,England is overcrowded thats why there’s no council housing as well as off loading millions of properties,not building enough replacements and now sweeping away whole estates in the big cities in order to gentrify and the tenants are dispersed all around the country

  8. Sorry but yet another “entitled” who thinks society should provide everything they want at no cost to themselves. Family should be there to support, and people should make an effort to support themselves.

    • What support do you think that the family should give, in addition to the support that they are undoubtedly currently giving?

    • Have to disagree with that. The chap works full time, the lady was working full time before she became ill, they pay their rent/bills etc but the medical circumstances mean they simply cannot live in a flat that can only be reached by stairs and does not have enough room for medical equipment. This lady would much rather still be at work, paying her way, than stuck in a wheelchair in a conservatory. Her family are supporting her but they aren’t medical professionals and they don’t have a spare house

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