Son voices security fears for mum with Alzheimer’s

Mrs Bertha Courtney and her son Ron - the Times sorted out her key problem.
Mrs Bertha Courtney and her son Ron - the Times sorted out her key problem.

The son of an 81-year-old woman with advanced Alzheimer’s has claimed that her landlords compromised the security of her apartment at Carleton House in Church Street.

Ron Courtney said he reported problems with her ‘key safe’, at the rear of the complex, four weeks ago. He claimed the South Ulster Housing Association (SUHA) had failed to repair it “even though I asked them regularly”. But after the Portadown Times took up the story, the Courtneys were given an apology and the work has been done.

Ron added, “Carers call with my mother (Mrs Bertha Courtney) four times a day and we’ve had to make complicated arrangements with the key so that they can gain access to her flat. Obviously we can’t give details about her security, and anyway, she doesn’t understand what’s going on.

“We can’t leave her on her own at the flat and we have a rota for looking after her. The association doesn’t react very quickly to requests in our experience.”

He added, “It took months of persuasion before the key safe was even installed. And it was much the same when we asked for a special shower to be installed last year. It took months for that to be done from the day I asked for it, even though the health authorities sanctioned it.

“I had to contact them day after day and they gave the reason as red tape. My mother even got a letter from the SUHA that she was 36p in rent arrears. The DHS pays her rent and she didn’t understand what it was all about. It’s harrowing to see mum deteriorate the way she is. I hope the association gets a move on and solves this problem.”

A statement from SUHA said, “The call was logged as an urgent repair on May 1 with the association’s contractor and was due for completion on May 8. The contractor is currently achieving eight out of 10 repairs of this nature within the time allowance.

“Sadly, this repair fell outside the standards set for the contractor. We have been in contact with the contractors who are on site, and we have made a personal apology.”