Pensioner ‘trapped’ in home for over two years waiting for a disability ramp

Babs Huggins from White Horses Way, Littlehampton
Babs Huggins from White Horses Way, Littlehampton

A desperate pensioner who has waited more than two years for a ramp to get out of her house said she ‘cannot take any more’.

Babs Huggins, 72, said she is registered disabled due to several ailments, including arthritis which has caused her knees to swell and left her unable to climb stairs.

She said Arun District Council approved a grant for her to have a disabled access ramp at the front of her house in May last year, having first been recommended for one in 2016 by her occupational therapist.

But after receiving quotes from companies to do the work, plans have stalled – to the point that her son, a builder, made her a temporary ramp so she could sit in her garden five weeks ago.

She said the delays have affected her mental health: “I burst into tears. Who would want to be stuck in their bungalow in this weather, day after day, month after month, going to hospital in an ambulance?

“I can’t take any more, and it is so depressing – I can’t explain how I feel.”

The former nurse and gas welder was born in Littlehampton but returned to the town 20 years ago to look after her mother. She moved into her home six years ago.

A breast cancer survivor, the retired interior designer and wedding dressmaker had a double mastectomy and four years ago underwent a breast reconstruction.

Now, one of her breasts has begun to reject the implant, meaning the skin will not heal.

As a result, Babs has carers which visit every day to help stave off infection while she waits for another double mastectomy.

The asthma sufferer said her heart stops more than 20 times a night, and has to be on a ventilator while sleeping.

According to Babs, she was told her porch would have to be demolished to make way for the ramp – and she may have to fit the bill.

The mother said her son was ‘disgusted’ with how she had been treated: “I really have been going through hell and feeling like giving up because my breast is killing me.”

An Arun spokesman said: “Arun District council are working with West Sussex County Council (WSCC) occupational therapists following a referral from them for a Disabled Facilities Grant in May 2017. Due to high demand at that time, the Council were operating a waiting list, where a priority assessment form, produced in partnership with WSCC and all the West Sussex Local Authorities, was used to manage the list with referrals being dealt with on priority basis using information provided by the occupational therapist. Because of this, regrettably there was a delay in processing the Disabled Facilities Grant.

“The resident was visited in January 2018 to start the application and appointed an agent to assist with obtaining quotes for the works and managing the project on site. The grant, which consists of adaptations to the bathroom and front and rear access, was approved on 16 June 2018, and a start date is due soon.

“Arun District Council is making every effort to ensure these works are completed as quickly as possible in order to help the resident to live independently in the home.”