SDLP Social Justice Spokesperson Mark H Durkan has criticised the delay in addressing waiting lists for housing adaptations.
Mr Durkan said questions submitted to the Communities Minister in early March remain unanswered while individuals and families with complex needs continue to suffer in homes wholly unsuitable to their needs.
The Foyle MLA commented:
“While I appreciate that this is a challenging period for the Department, I have no doubt that it is an even greater challenge for all those confined to their homes during lockdown without the life-changing adaptations they so desperately need.
“I lament the suffering and continued distress of all those currently on waiting lists. For these individuals and their families, the uncertainty surrounding the progress of these adaptations will further compound their anxieties.
“Despite pressing for answers on what action has been taken to reduce waiting times, there is an apparent reluctance from Minister Hargey and her Department to provide detail.
“Granted, the slowness of this system was a persistent issue before this pandemic hit and I appreciate the fallout will further pause this process, meaning people will have to wait even longer in homes unsuitable to their needs. This will pose even greater challenges to families who are barely managing in such difficult circumstances on a daily basis.
“However, this fact does not excuse the lengthy delay for answers nor does it excuse any further deterioration with waiting lists. These adaptations are crucial to restore dignity, to allow people to live more independently and improve their quality of life.
“With the increased likelihood that some of these vulnerable individuals will either be shielding or spending increased times at home in the current climate, we need movement on this matter as soon as possible. They cannot afford the dither and delay approach displayed by the department.”