Disabled mum who’s only had 2 showers in 3 years feels like ‘animal trapped in a cage’

A disabled mum has said she feels like an “animal trapped in a cage” as she is unable to leave the first floor of her council-owned property.

Deborah Tipper claims she has been left “stuck in her home” as she is not able to use the stairs in her maisonette – which has resulted in her only showering twice in three years.

The 61-year-old claims she sleeps on a bed in the lounge and is forced to use a commode, reports BirminghamLive.

The disabled woman, from Bordesley Green, Birmingham, uses a wheelchair or a Zimmer frame to get around.

Deborah says as a result of her disability, she is unable to access the front door downstairs or the two upstairs bedrooms and bathroom.

She claims she has only showered while at the hospital, having to make do with carers washing her for the last three years.

After Deborah’s physical health worsened in 2019, the family repeatedly requested a move to a more suitable home – such as a ground floor flat or bungalow – but to no avail.

Birmingham City Council apologised to Deborah for the fact that she was “unable to access parts of their property as a result of their worsening condition”.

A spokesman added it was working with the family to help find more “suitable accommodation”.

Her daughter, Fay Bonner, said: “She said to me she feels like an animal trapped inside a cage, because she can’t get out she can’t do anything she wants to do.

“She can’t physically walk down the stairs – she hasn’t in three years.

“Also she said she feels disgusting because she’s had two showers in three years because she can’t get access to the bathroom.

“She gets washed by her carers but it’s just not the same. She’s only managed to have a shower when she’s been in hospital.”

The flat, where Deborah has lived for nine years, has had no adaptations and the council allegedly told the family they would not look at possibilities as a housing application is in place.

“As soon as you open up her front door you have a set of stairs that leads to the living room and the kitchen, so she now lives in the living room, she’s got a bed in there a commode in there, a recliner chair,” said Fay.

“There’s another flight of stairs to the two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs.”

“It’s a major fire hazard. Knowing if there is a fire, she definitely will die in that house because if she managed to get to the stairs she would fall down, she’s just got no options to get out the house.”

In a bid to see her mum moved to “safer” property, her daughter contacted a fire station on three or four occasions to do a risk assessment.

She said this also proved unsuccessful.

She added: “We’ve had the occupational therapist and they did an assessment and said: ‘This isn’t safe for her to live, she needs a ground floor place’.

“They passed that over to Birmingham City Council and we never heard anything else about it.

“She just wants to live a normal life. If she could get out, she could come over to mine for sleepovers.

“She can’t go to family parties, she misses out on everything. it’s been so hard for her staying in.”

On one occasion, several male members of the family carried her down the stairs and out of her house in a wheelchair to attend a party.

But that, Fay said, wasn’t safe to keep doing each time.

Fay said: “I hate to see her like that, she’s suffered enough. We first reached out to the council as soon as she got sick.

“We’ve reached out to them because her doctor said she should never have lived in a place with a stairs because as she’s never been able to breathe properly, it goes back probably five or six years trying to get her moved.

“It’s just been really crucial since she hasn’t been able to get access in and out of the house.

“Now she can’t walk up and down, the only time she can get out of her house is if ambulance staff carry her for a hospital appointment.”

Birmingham City Council said it has been in regular contact with the tenant – who has been awarded Band 1 priority on the waiting list.

A statement from the authority read: “We are sorry that this tenant has been unable to access parts of their property as a result of their worsening condition.

“The council have been in regular contact with the tenant to find out how we can best help them.

“As a result they have resubmitted their housing application due to their mobility issues and they have been awarded a Band 1, the top band on the waiting list.

“We will now be working with them to find more suitable accommodation as soon as possible in line with our allocation policy.”