Mother’s fear for disabled son, 14

Oliver Holbrooke with his sister Verity and his parents Tony and Lorraine Easterbrook

Oliver Holbrooke with his sister Verity and his parents Tony and Lorraine Easterbrook

First published in News by

A SEVERELY disabled teenage boy is at risk of serious injury without alterations being done to his bedroom, says his worried mother.

Oliver Holbrooke, 14, who lives in Martin near Fordingbridge with his mother Lorraine Easterbrook, stepfather Tony and two-year-old sister Verity, has a genetic disorder that means he cannot communicate, has the mental age of a two-year-old and is prone to banging his head against walls and furniture.

His parents are eligible for a grant to have the walls of his room padded to prevent Oliver doing serious harm to himself during the night, but say red tape means they have been waiting for months for New Forest District Council to arrange for the work to be done.

Mrs Easterbrook said: “I don’t ask for much but the walls in his room are crumbling. I had to take him to A&E recently with a suspected displaced jaw and fractured nose. It turned out it was severe bruising, but does he need to have a serious injury before they do something?”

Oliver goes to Exeter House School in Salisbury during the day and his mother cares for him at home the rest of the time while her husband works as the manager of a pig unit.

Oliver’s condition means he doesn’t sleep very much and may get out of his bed in the night and harm himself before his parents can get to him.

Mrs Easterbrook contacted the council for help after Oliver broke a window during the night in October and cut himself.

“I came in to get him up for school in the morning and there was blood everywhere,” she said. “It was only a little cut but it could have been an artery for all I knew. I was terrified.”

The council put in shutters on Oliver’s window and agreed to fund padding for his room but the work still hasn’t been done six months later.

“It is partly my fault,” said Mrs Easterbrook. “I disagreed with some things they wanted to do because they wanted to put vinyl down and I wanted him to have his carpet so he had some home comforts but I really just want them to get on and do it.

“I don’t ask for much for Oliver and I have fought for everything he has. How much has a child got to hurt himself before they get a move on?”

An NFDC spokesman said: “Since 2009, the number of requests for disabled facilities grants has risen every year while we have reduced the waiting list to obtain adaptations from 161 five years ago to zero.

“We have also reduced the average waiting time of 320 days to under 12 weeks from the time someone is referred to us.

“To ensure any adaptations meet the needs of the client we rely on information from them and their occupational therapist when a referral is made to us.

“In this case, there has been a delay in progress while the occupational therapist, client and grant officer have sought to agree on the adaptations required. As the adaptation is of a more complex nature, it is also taking a little longer than we would hope to receive the schedule from the contractors but we hope to get the works completed as soon as possible.”

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