Posts Tagged With: wheelchair

Spanish Point, Co Clare

Jean and I booked into The Armada Hotel, Spanish Point for 2 nights for a short break. We headed off on Tuesday morning and stopped at Corbett Court, Ballyhea where we enjoyed a delightful light lunch. The restaurant is very accessible and the accessible toilet is spacious and functional. We then continued into County Limerick and under the River Shannon into County Clare and onto our final destination, Spanish Point, which lies on the Atlantic coast and the next stop is the United States of America.

We arrived at the Armada Hotel later that afternoon in very blustery conditions and whilst not actually raining at the time it was very damp. The hotel is accessible with a number of designated parking spaces adjacent to the entrance foyer. There are accessible toilets just off the reception area. We had reserved a wheelchair accessible room and now it was time to check it out. Our room was on the ground floor and it was exceptionally spacious with a functional and accessible en-suite bath room. The shower was functional but not as good as our own ‘rain-head’ but the locally handmade soap more than made up for it.

We went for a look around outside even though it was very blustery and foggy. On a clear sunny day the scenery would be spectacular. We then retired to The Ocean Bar where Jean ordered a piping hot coffee and I opted to try a local brew called Dooliner Beer. The weather being poor enough and the evening already closing in we decided to stay put and drive around the next day. That evening we ate in Johhny Burkes pub; Jean enjoyed a beautiful lamb shank while I enjoyed the largest bowl of mussels I have ever had. More pints and coffee followed.

The next morning we both enjoyed a fabulous carvery breakfast before heading off to The Cliffs of Moher. By now the rain and wind had settled in and that precluded us from going out to the cliff edge although many brave hearts did. We confined ourselves to the Visitor Centre which is very accessible and educational. It is well ramped, has an elevator and accessible and functional toilets. Two cafés and a visitor shop are also included. There are a number of designated parking spaces adjacent to the main entrance. Two of the photographs were obviously not taken during our visit. This is a link to a visit in better weather weather in 2013.

We then drove on to Lisdoonvarna and Doolin but the rain was still falling and the wind still howling so we decided to go back to the hotel for more coffee and beer. We dined in The Pearl Restaurant where Jean had paté and I had the most delightful tomato soup followed by pork for Jean and salmon for me.

A hearty breakfast followed the next morning before we headed for home. Storm Doris had passed over and it really was the calm after the storm and we drove home in bright dry conditions. We stopped off in Lily Mai’s at Bunratty for a cuppa and a scone before undertaking the final leg of the journey. Designated parking is available adjacent to the door and an accessible toilet is available inside.

Well worth a visit even if the weather isn’t the best.

Categories: Clare, Cork | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cork University Hospital

I was an inpatient in Cork University Hospital (CUH) for a week in August 2016. I recovered fully thanks to the excellent medical care received. This post is as a result of the poor facilities in the bathroom attached to the ward in which I was resident. It is a critique on bad planning and design and poor feedback. I wrote to the relevant authorities on August 22nd detailing my concerns and received a prompt reply informing me that the matter would be investigated and I would receive written details of the investigation early in October.

As I write this, on December 4th, I have not received the promised written details of the investigation despite writing again in November. I have received a number of telephone calls, which were actually return calls, detailing what action is proposed and promises of the letter. The proposed action is what concerns me and what finally prompted me to pen this post.

The photographs below describe my concerns;

the emergency call button at the toilet section was approximately 4 feet off the floor and there was no drop rail; there was no emergency pull cord in the shower area nor were there any vertical grab rails; the mirror is wrongly placed to facilitate shaving while sitting in a wheelchair. I have been told that when the refurbishment is complete the emergency button is to remain in the same location which is absolutely ridiculous. There was also a discussion as to where a cord/button could be placed; near the bowl or the sink? Falls can happen anywhere and the alarms should be in the most likely places.

Below are a number of areas with emergency alarms close to the ground and also at a higher level. It can be done. Where there is a will there is a way and patient safety should be of paramount importance.

Design and safety is not a new and should require little discussion particularly in a large organisation with numerous examples but it may be a good idea to ask service users for an opinion, dare I say advice.

What do you think?

 

Categories: Cork | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Starbucks – Blackpool S.C.

Starbucks seem to be opening everywhere and Blackpool Shopping Center is the most recent I have seen. For those of you familiar with B.S.C. Starbucks is located in the unit vacated by Xtravision some time ago. The entire area is wheelchair and buggy accessible (ask Jack) and has ample circulation space. Jack came with me to check it out.

Jack my assistant

Jack my assistant

The Accessible Toilet is exactly that, accessible, as it should be for a facility that has just opened. It is spacious and clean and has all the appropriate bars in the appropriate places. I was disappointed to see that the emergency pull cord was secured about 2 meters off the ground. I did speak with Tommy about the matter and he assured me that he will raise it with his immediate supervisor. I will return shortly to check it out.

Parking is readily available with a number of Designated Disabled Spaces in the immediate vicinity.

Feel free to leave a comment.

Categories: Cork | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Flying Enterprise

We were at the Flying Enterprise on Friday evening for a meal and a chat and maybe even a drink or two. Who are ‘we’ you might ask and I will answer that later.

Group Photo

The Flying Enterprise (Click Here) is very accessible, tiled floor and no awkward thresholds, and the staff are friendly and accommodating. 11 of us had a meal and drinks but mostly we chatted among ourselves. The food and the service were both excellent. I have no hesitation in recommending it. The accessible toilet was exactly that, accessible and clean and neat and tidy. An extra few people joined into the group after the meal was finished. A limited amount of on street parking is available nearby.

Accessible Toilet

Accessible Toilet

Now back to the question of “Who are we?” We are a small group of people living with MS in and around the greater Cork area. This is a group of individuals who happen have Multiple Sclerosis as a common denominator. It is not about comparing notes and signs and symptoms but neither is it about ignoring the reality of MS. It is a social group that was started about 2 years ago and was originally a group for the newly diagnosed but has gone from strength to strength since its inception.

Please feel free to leave a comment.

Categories: Cork | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

A night out and the morning after

I’m not sure why I wrote this but it was weird this morning, not freaky, just different and since I haven’t posted a lot recently I decided that this would be a reintroduction of myself. I wanted to share some of WWW.MS.DG (Weird Wonderful World. Multiple Sclerosis. Declan Groeger)

My internal clock has 07.00 indelibly etched after a number of years taking a pill at that time every morning, a time of my choosing, and which must be repeated around 12 hours later. It really is not a hardship as I have my best hours in the morning; my energy levels slip a bit in the afternoons and evenings. Sometimes, like this morning I want a lie-in but my internal clock insists on telling me it is 7 o’clock and time to get moving.

You see last night we went for a meal and a movie with 2 of my brothers and their wives; Martin & Mary, Kerrie & Bríd and Jean & Declan. Let me set the scene; the movie was produced by my nephew Fionn and it was being shown at the Indie Cork Film Festival so it was a must see for us and a yellow rain warning was in operation for Cork. We arranged to meet in Luigi Malones for a bite to eat before the show. It was raining pretty heavily by the time we parked the car and we got our first wetting getting from the car to the restaurant. The food was up to Luigi Malones usual high standard but the accessible toilet was a major let down. It is tired looking but it is roomy and functional. It really needs a makeover. Our second wetting came while returning to the car and our third and final wetting came while we were moving from the car to the cinema by which time the rain was absolutely torrential. The film “Twice Shy” was directed by Tom Ryan and produced by Fionn Greger; it is topical and well worth watching if you get the chance. The rain had stopped by the time the film was over and it was well past my regular bedtime by the time we got home. The Gate cinema is wheelchair accessible with an elevator to the upper floors with 3 designated parking spaces adjacent.

I, and others living with MS, find that having a regular bedtime helps in getting a good night’s sleep and since I was late going to bed I decided to have lie-in in the morning. My alarm shrilled at about 07.00 and I turned over and took the pill and rolled back again. I slept but not a deep sleep and at 08.30 I was lying there thinking that I should get up, I will get up, I must get up, I want to get up. I wiggled my toes and did a mental check that everything was working and when I discovered that everything was fine I said I must get up, I should get up, I can get up but I didn’t get up and I don’t know why; I just lay there thinking about getting up but refused to act. This was MS brain at work. I wasn’t tired or cold, I was warm and rested but I just lay there and then at 08.45, without any warning my legs swung out of the bed and I found myself standing upright and ready to take on the world.

Is there a point to this story? Not really. I’m just saying that after a not very late night my head was in a different place when I awoke. I am now back to being supercalifragilisticexpialidicious sitting inside with beautiful sunlight shining in the window writing this.

Please don’t stop asking me to partake in different events. I may not be able to do them all but please let it be my decision. Borrowing Spoons has never been a problem for me and once I keep the number low pay back is not too difficult.

Categories: Cork, Just thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

McGettigans, Cork

We visited Mc Gettigans Cookhouse & Bar (Click Here) recently. The hostelry is located within the Ambassador Hotel, Cork and you would never imagine that what is now a beautiful hotel was once a nursing home. The hotel is snugly nestled on Military Hill which is the approach road to Collin’s Barracks, Cork’s only remaining working military barrack.

Mc Gettigans is a modern eatery, is beautifully decorated and the food delicious. Jean and I were joined for lunch by Elaine and Mairéad and the newest addition to the family our grandson Jack. We gave the menu a fair workout and all plates were cleared. Desserts followed with me declaring the Strawberry Pavlova the best ever.

Disappointingly there is only one designated disabled parking space adjacent to the front door which is serviced by a very gentle and user friendly ramp to a tiled and easily traversed reception area. Access to McGettigans would be difficult from other parking areas due to the hilly nature of the site. The dining area of McGettigans is accessible with a fully accessible washroom nearby.

All in all a great lunch in a great venue.

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Bellinter House and more

Saturday July 30th dawned overcast and cloudy but it was not raining and Jean and I headed toward Dublin for the wedding of my nephew, Conor Meany to his beautiful fiancé Lyndsey O’Neill.

C & L

Conor & Lyndsey cut the cake

This is not a commentary on the wedding which was absolutely brilliant. This is a critique of accessibility, or inaccessibility. I have said many times before that being able to get into and from a building is not sufficient to claim accessibility. If a person with mobility issues can’t get in it matters not what’s inside and if what is inside is not user friendly there is no point in going in.

We broke the journey in Midway, Portlaoise. There are a good number of designated parking spaces at the front door and the toilet is wheelchair accessible. There are a number of food outlets inside with a good selection of food to quell any tummy rumblings and keep us going until we reached our next watering hole.

The nuptial mass was held in St Brigid’s Church, Killester, Dublin which was about a 3 hour drive from Cork but our trusty SatNav got us to the church on time. St Brigid’s Church has ample car parking spaces and the most gently sloped ramp I have used in a long time. After the mass was finished and Conor and Lyndsey had officially been declared married we headed for Bellinter House, Navan, Co Meath for the celebration.

Considering that Bellinter (Click Here) was constructed in the late 18th century it would be unrealistic to expect it to be truly wheelchair accessible and it wasn’t. Some efforts had been made but they had not been adequately thought through. The elevator to the reception area was around the rear of the house, effectively outside the back door. It is a platform elevator that required an operator on the platform and another on the first floor and that was after an almost impossible journey over a stone covered courtyard. The hotel did provide a staff member to drag me to the lift and subsequently to our bedroom. The staff did as much as they could but the concept of independence was shot on seeing the gravelled courtyard and further died on seeing the elevator.

Our room was spacious and comfortable but the en-suite facilities fell short. The bathroom was more than spacious and the sink and mirror were set at an acceptable level; the toilet had a drop rail and grab rail at the appropriate height but the shower lacked any rails or seating and was impossible for me to use.

It was now time for the reception to begin and it began by me being dragged backwards over the courtyard gravel then around the front of the house, which was tarmacadam and was a comfortable spin, and into the second courtyard which was also gravelled. The only way in for me was to be dragged backwards again. There was a perfect concrete path connecting the function room to the Spa Area but that was of no use to me, unfortunately.  The function room was perfectly accessible and boasted a modern wheelchair accessible toilet. As my bedtime approached I faced the drag across both courtyards again but thankfully I did not have to use the elevator.

Bellinter Accessible Toilet

Accessible Toilet at Function Room

More dragging across the courtyards before breakfast the next morning; the dining area was accessible but I think this was more by accident than design.

Bellinter Dining Room

Dining Room

My one comment to the owners of Bellinter is why did you go so far but did not finish?

After a hearty breakfast and long goodbyes we headed for home. We stopped in Kildare Village (Click Here) for a break and bought Jack his first pair of boots.

Jack's Boots

Jack’s Boots

Kildare VillageTo people who don’t know Kildare Village it is an outlet mall with plenty of designated car parking spaces, is totally wheelchair accessible and has a number of wheelchair accessible toilets. We then back to the motorway and headed home.

Categories: Dublin, Kildare, Laoise, Meath | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A day trip to Rosslare etc.

Saturday morning dawned dull and dreary with dark grey clouds hanging low over the city; a heavy mist covered everything like a bad smell. Jean and I were heading to Rosslare, Co. Wexford, a round trip of approximately 400Km. We were going to Rosslare to collect our youngest daughter Mairéad from the ferry; she was coming home for some much needed ‘mum pampering’ after 7 weeks in hospital in London.

The weather varied between mist to light rain to quite heavy rain until we approached Dungarvan where it was dry and really we had expected nothing less in the Sunny South East. We stopped off in the Park Hotel (Click Here)  for a break and refreshments. The scones were lovely and you really can’t do a lot wrong with a pot of green tea. There are 2 designated parking spaces adjacent to the main entrance which is well ramped and the foyer and bar were easily traversed in the absence of carpet.

Park Hotel Dungarvan

Park Hotel Dungarvan

The wheelchair toilet was clean, tidy and accessible without having an excess of space. Unfortunately there was neither a hand dryer nor paper towels.

We called in to St Helens Village for lunch with my sister Anita and her husband Jim before heading for the ferry port in Rosslare.

There are plenty of designated parking spaces (Pay & Display) adjacent to the entrance. The entrance to the terminal building is ramped and internally the building is ramped between the ground floor and 1st floor but I think the ramps are more to facilitate wheeled luggage and passengers. I don’t think wheelchair users were considered when designing the building as you can see below the viewing deck is ramped on the inside but not on the outside.

The wheelchair accessible toilet was in the men’s toilet area and whilst spacious and functional it lacked basic cleanliness standards. Ferry Terminal 1The cubicle whilst having a sink lacked a dryer or towels.

Having collected our precious cargo we headed for home with one short stop at Mairéad’s friends house. Kate & Philip made us a cuppa and we continued on our merry way.

As the day drew to a close and dusk was falling there were some beautiful patches of red sky which we hoped were a portent for better weather tomorrow; ‘a red sky at night is the shepherds delight, a red sky in the morning is the shepherds warning.

Categories: Cork, Waterford, Wexford | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Independence & Me

This post first appeared in Ms & Me on May 12th 2016

This week Declan Groeger challenges perceptions and examines our idea of independence. Desire to be free is a driving force for innovation and personal revolution.

I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 1988and as the years have passed, my understanding of independence has changed.The most critical ingredient in the independence recipe is knowledge. I live my independence by making my own decisions. I don’t present my decisions as a fait accompli; there is always a discussion with other stakeholders in my life but the ultimate decision is mine and mine alone. Knowledge is power. There are two areas in my MS life where independence is crucial; treatment and Assistive Technology

Knowledge is power and we can empower ourselves by getting well informed. I must admit to not being fully informed in my earlier years on medication; this was partly due to the scarcity of information at the time but in particular due to my unwavering trust in the medical professionals. I didn’t address whether to go with medication or diet route until 10 years after my original diagnosis and then it was only after a 2nd opinion confirmed I had MS. There is such a mountain of information available that it canbe difficult to separate the reliable from the unreliable. Social media plays an enormous role now as people from around the world can compare and contrast treatment options and discuss side effects in real time. The importance of a good medical team cannot be overestimated- your neurologist, MS nurse and GP all at the coalface with you. Pharmaceutical companies are different, as their prime motivation is to keep shareholders happy with large dividends and any of their claims should be treated with a healthy dose of scepticism. It is only by reading, learning, analysing and discerning that with full knowledge we can make informed decisions, maintain our independence.

The need for independence is often misunderstood and mistaken for stubbornness, I know that personally.Weakness in my legs was one of the earlier visible signs.At that time in my life I did not want to ‘link arms’ with the person I was walking with; I wanted to be me, to walk independently without assistance. I thought that people would look at me pityingly if I used a cane or other walking aid. Vanity? I now know that people looked at me as if I was drunk stumbling around the street and using walls for support. They couldn’t see my invisible illness but if I had a stick, people may haveunderstood.Not using a stick was an example of my stubbornness; once I accepted myneed and started using a stick, I became more independent in that I could actually walk without holding the walls! I’m not sure how many times suggestions were made but my family and friends accepted that any such decision had to be mine.

When my wife Jean and I went to Italy to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, my need for further AT became very apparent on the cobbled streets of Rome. I rented a wheelchair there and myacceptance of myneed actually increased my independence. I had always thought that using AT was a sign of weakness, of frailty, but I wasso very wrong. Recognising the need of support shows self-awareness and strength; it is my recognition that I need supportthat has ensuredmy independence.Assistive Technology can bea liberator when accepted by the user.

The point of these anecdotes is that I made the final decisions on whether I use AT. I would have benefited from AT an awful lot earlier on my MS roadway but mentally I was not ready. But when I was ready, and once I reached that point, I embraced it wholeheartedly. If you’re a partner/wife/husband/friend of someone with MS, don’t just go out and buy a cane because you think they need it. Talk withthemfirst.

I will decide when I am ready for my next piece of Assistive Technology. I am not ungrateful for your thoughts and kind acts and help but offer and help on my terms; this may be the only true independence I have left. I have maintained my independence over the years to such an extent that sometimes I fear I have alienated some of the good people who have tried to help me at different times. Family and friends have seen me labouring under my MS load and I obstinately refused offers of help. I am much more polite in refusing help now; I also accept help more often than I used to. Independence is worth fighting for and let me put the world on notice that I will continue fighting.

Why do I valueindependence so much? Because I am human, because I am alive and being free is at the core of being human. There is also a bit of doubt- Idon’t want to become a burden on my loved ones, my family and friends. Most fundamentally, I don’t want to place a stumbling block in my own path.

Tell me, what does independence mean to you?

Here is a great blog by Mitch Sturgeon on Assistive Technology which may resonate with you as it clicked with me.

 

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Letter to Elaine

This post first appeared on Living Like You on May 11th 2016

Dear Elaine,

It is a beautiful spring morning and the sun is shining. As I sit at my desk looking out the window, I notice one of my neighbours walking along the footpath with his infant son hoisted high upon his shoulders. The scene makes me pause to consider what part I will play in the life of your baby, my first grandchild.

Over the past few months, I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on how my multiple sclerosis will impact my role as a grandparent. Because a granddad’s role is largely ceremonial in the life of a newborn,I think the true differences will really appear with the passage of time.Because of my condition, I know some things just won’t be possible. I won’t be able to hoist Junior onto my shoulders.I will be able to hold and cuddle my grandchild just like any doting grandparent, but I will have to remain seated.

Another job this doting granddad will miss out on is pushing Junior in a buggy or pram, but I certainly will travel alongside whenever the opportunity arises.I will still be there to do the things that granddads do, to buy the things that you and Henry won’t. I will still be there to spoil Junior despite what you say.

I relish the thought of playing with Junior while sitting on the ground; we will be safe there, as neither of us can fall any further. I may experience some difficultygetting back upafter,but to me it will always be a price worth paying. Actually it could be quite interesting watching both of us attempting to stand up.  As my mobility decreases Junior’s will improve and in a very short timehe or she will be able to run circles around me!

Of course, there is the matter of the small genetic factor involved in the MS equation. I sincerely hope and wish and pray that that factor will not be a part of my grandchild’s life.But I also know at this point in my life that worrying is a wasted emotion. Qué sera sera!

I know you and Henry will be Junior’sprimary caregivers and educators, but I will have my little inputs.A lot of Junior’s ”firsts” will happen with you two, as it should be, but I intend to be around to celebrate each individual ”first” even if I’m not actually witnessing them.  I know it may seem difficult at times, but grandparents want, dare I say need, to be involved. I have no real memories of my own grandparents except for my paternal grandmother who passed away when I was very young. Memories are important.

More than anything, I just want to help. MS will occasionally throw a wrench in our plans, but try to be understanding. I will love Junior with all my heart – MS, a wheelchair and impaired mobility will not change that. MS has taken a lot from me, but it has not robbed me of my ability to love, and we know Junior will have plenty of that.

Love you always

Dad

 

 

Categories: Just thoughts | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

There’s a moral in this story

Last Sunday morning as the wind howled and the rain bucketed down Jean and I headed for Dublin. I put a coat over my head as I ‘ran’ for the car. Ran is used very loosely in this context; I may have moved faster than normal but it was only marginal. Not really a wetting but more of a damping as the distance is short from the front door to the car.

The wind and rain had worsened as we approached Junction 8, M8 – the Topaz service area near Cashel when we decided to take a break for a cuppa. There are a number of designated parking spaces at the main entrance door. I decided to use my walker to go in in the interest of expediency, less setting up time. We both had a thoroughly enjoyable Apple Turnovers with our respective cuppas. The wheelchair accessible toilet is exactly that, accessible and functional – 5 stars.

The weather had deteriorated further as we were leaving after our break; the car was outside and we were inside with no alternative but to make a bolt for it. My first difficulty arose as I rounded the corner and the wind nearly blew me back inside. I was left with no choice but to move forward. I got to the car and had just folded the walker and deposited it securely in the car when a gust of wind blew the door and my hand slipped on the very wet side of the car and I did not have a soft landing. My chin met the tarmac which was hidden under a fine pool of water. Jean exited the car like Speedy Gonzales and two other ladies who happened to be passing came to my assistance and rapidly lodged me safely in the car; I am extremely grateful to those who came to my assistance. My clothes were no longer dry, my chin was a bit grazed and swollen; otherwise I was fine except for a major dent in my pride. We all know that old saying that pride goes before a fall and in my case it did, literally.

The moral contained in this tale is very simple and is often forgotten. Don’t go out in bad weather unless you really must and if you do go out pay special attention to the conditions. This obviously applies more to people not in the prime of health and help should be accepted when offered.

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MS & Me – my latest post

This week Declan Groeger questions those amongst us who think Disable Parking spaces are a free-for-all.

My MS Roller Coaster Ride officially began in 1988. You know what I mean when I refer to it as a roller coaster ride- there are so many ups and downs and the speed of the ups is never as fast as the speed of the downs.

Click here to read the full post

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A Valentine Jaunt Part 2

After a hearty breakfast in the hotel Jean and I headed for Part 2 of our Valentines Jaunt and so we headed off to Powerscourt Waterfall which is the highest in Ireland at 397 feet. (Click here for further details) There had been some snow overnight and the morning was very brisk and invigorating (in other words COLD). Neither of us was really interested in a trek around the area of the waterfall, well Jean was cold and I wasn’t able, but I think it would a beautiful setting for a picnic on a warm sunny summer day so we admired the scenery for a while, took a few pictures

and headed across country to our next stop, Glendalough.

Glendalough is a monastic settlement founded by Saint Kevin in the 6th century and is run by the Office of Public Works. (Click here for further details) There was still a small amount of snow on the ground so I restricted my visit to the Visitors Centre which is totally wheelchair accessible. The exhibitions are very informative and the 15 minute film which is in an accessible intimate theatre is also very enjoyable and informative. There are a number of specified walks around the area of varying degrees of difficulty available.

I did have a number of issues with the accessible toilet in the men’s area (I didn’t check the Ladies Loo); the emergency pull cord was severed at ceiling height which made it totally useless and there was no drop rail at the side of the toilet bowl. It seems that the emergency cord is regularly pulled and snapped; I suggested that a push button alarm be installed close to the floor as a viable alternative and that a drop rail be fitted.

We headed off again in beautiful sunshine and stopped for lunch in Joannes Cafe in Gorey. Check out her Facebook Page.  The cafe is accessible without any difficulty from the footpath. I used my walker to enter the cafe and even though I found that the accessible toilet was accessible I’m not sure how user friendly it would have been in the wheelchair. I suspect it might be a bit tight. We both had Steak Sandwiches with chips and pepper sauce, which were very tasty, before heading for the last leg of our journey.

All in all a thoroughly enjoyable trip.

Categories: Wexford, Wicklow | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Valentines Day Jaunt Part 1 – Powerscourt Hotel

Jean and I (well maybe just me)are not renowned for celebrating Valentine’s Day, or rather the commercial aspect of the day, a few days before or after is fine but the 14th of February well, no. This year Jean treated me to a stay in Powerscourt Hotel in Co Wicklow and it was absolutely fantastic. Click here for further details.

We headed to the hotel on Sunday morning stopping off at Chez Nita & Jim in Stillorgan for a break and a cuppa before the final leg of the journey. Powerscourt Hotel has 5 stars and totally worth every one of them. The hotel reception area is a mixture of tiles and wooden flooring and is easily navigable. I was glad that Jean was with me as the reception desk did not cater for me or any other wheelchair user signing documentation at a comfortable height.

We had been upgraded to a suite which was absolutely super but unfortunately the bathroom in the suite was not disabled friendly and we had, regretfully, to decline the upgrade.

Our bedroom was spacious and wheelchair accessible. The en-suite was equally spacious and the drop rail and grab rail were in the appropriate places.  The sink and the mirror, with its built-in television screen, were set at a good height. One reservation I have concerns the seat in the shower area; it is a smooth surface which is not the best when it is wet and is relatively easy to slide off it. On a more positive note all the appropriate grab bars and drop rails were in place as was the emergency pull cord.

We adjourned to the Sika Restaurant for a romantic evening meal. The food was well presented, tasted beautiful and the staff were very attentive. The restaurant was totally accessible as were the accessible toilets in the public areas. Please refer to the menu for a more complete description of our meal.

The wheelchair accessible toilets in the public areas were exactly that and were clean and tidy.

20160214_165606

Wheelchair accessible toilet

I have previously awarded 5 Accessibility Stars to a number of hotels and restaurants but because of the issues with the shower seat and the reception desk I will deduct a half star and award 4 ½ stars. The shower seat is easily rectifiable but the reception area may take a bit more planning.

Part 2 will follow shortly.

Don’t forget to leave a comment or use the Contact Form

Categories: Wicklow | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When more than the thought counts.

Accessible Toilet Facilities – the good and the not so good..

This post is not about building regulations or statutory obligations regarding accessible toilet facilities. It is more about common sense and usability. I don’t claim to be an expert on the matter but I do know what works and doesn’t work for me. Those of you who know me know that even though I use a wheelchair if I have difficulty getting into a particular toilet it will be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for a person with a greater impairment. Overall size is important but layout is critical. I will deal with a number of the issues I have come across over the years; some are easily remedied, some not so easy and some are so serious as to make me ponder on what qualifications the genius designer possessed.

The first and most obvious rule is that the door must be wide enough for a wheelchair to get in.

Alexander not accessible

The door isn’t nearly wide enough

There must be sufficient space to allow the door to be closed when a wheelchair is inside. This problem is not uncommon and may be easily remedied. The cheaper option is to change the door to outward opening but there is also the option of a sliding door to consider. This is a very important issue because privacy at this time is exceptionally important.

MUH door close

Impossible to close the door with a wheelchair inside

Ample circulation space for a wheelchair is next on the agenda. It really isn’t good enough to find that you can get in and close the door, just about, but you can’t position the chair correctly to move on to the toilet seat.

Gibson Accessible Toilet

Ample circulation space is essential

The appropriate grab rails and drop rails should be in place. Absence of or insufficient rails makes life difficult for the user and could be downright dangerous.

20160115_192304

Drop rail and other rails are well located

The emergency pull cord is useless if not accessible. The person trying to use the cord will, most likely, be on the ground. This is another reason to consider an outward opening door because if the user is on the ground in a small toilet it will be impossible to open an inward opening door without causing further injury.

The two pictures below were taken in Gatwick Airport in 2014 and show an alarm button adjacent to the toilet bowl and also a long alarm border on the opposite wall.

Hygiene is important and therefore the correct placement of such things as the toilet roll holder, the sink and the hand drier are important.

The 2 photographs below are the best wheelchair accessible toilets I have come across.

This critique of accessible toilets is based on my personal experience and all the photographs are my own. Please feel free to copy and share, leave a comment or use the ‘Contact Form’ to contact me privately.

Categories: Just thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

5 Accessibility Stars – Cork International Airport Hotel

 

Jean and I recently stayed at the Cork International Airport Hotel (Click Here). We were on our way to Spain to get a natural top-up of my Vitamin D levels and we had an early flight to catch the following morning. We parked up and left the car there for the duration of our absence. The hotel provides a mini-bus service to and from the airport. There are ample designated disabled parking spaces to the rear of the hotel and whilst it is to the rear of the hotel it really is not the back door. We had a beautiful meal in the hotel restaurant, The New Yorker, to get our holiday off to a good start. Jean had Paté and I had Caesar Salad and we both followed with a succulent Belly of Pork

The entrance foyer is part carpeted and the reception desk caters for wheelchair users. There is also a wheelchair accessible toilet in the foyer.

Our room was spacious and perfectly accessible with a full ‘wet room’. This selection of photographs describes our accommodation better than any of my words.

We had visited the hotel previously were disappointed on a number of fronts but this time we had no complaints. We had an early night followed by an early start and the following morning we headed for Spain to make our contribution to the recovering Spanish economy.

Don’t forget to use the contact form if you want to get in touch privately. All comments are appreciated and will be acknowledged.

Categories: Cork | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New Year Resolution

My mum used to say “Never stand when you can sit and never sit when you can lie down”. This sounded like good advice at the time and after my MS diagnosis I adhered to it with an almost religious fervour. I would sit at every opportunity despite the fact that some, uninformed, people thought me lazy.

Short cuts do not pay in matters of health and in fact they can be hugely detrimental. I learned how to do more whilst sitting and thus do less whilst standing and this has resulted in a deterioration in my ability to stand and remember that if you can’t stand you can’t walk. Functions are lost much faster than they can be regained.

Where am I going with this?

Well my walking ability has worsened over the last number of years due to MS but also due to my ability to take shortcuts whenever the opportunity arose. I started to rely more on my wheelchair and remember that awful slippery slope; at first you think you can’t so you don’t and very soon you really can’t. “Never stand when you can sit…”

My New Year Resolution “Stand more, do more standing and walk more.” We are now 2 weeks into 2016 and I am proud to say that I am still plugging away at my NYR and even more delighted to say that it is working. Slowly, ever so slowly!

I have substituted my wheelchair with a new easy managed ‘walker’ for short outings and am delighted with the results. I have used the walker 4 times in the last few days and whilst my legs are more tired the feeling of achievement is immeasurable.

There is an old African proverb that goes like this – “Despise not a snail for its slow and struggling movement; it has a destination and with time it shall arrive.”

A word of caution – MS is a very individual disease and what works for one may not work for another. My recipe may not work for you so be careful and recognise your own limitations.

Categories: Just thoughts | Tags: , , , , , | 15 Comments

My Year (2015) in Review

2014 didn’t finish too well with pains in my right shoulder and left hip that required steroid injections and further tests. It is important for those of us living with MS to realise that not all of our problems are MS related and I was relieved that these issues were not MS related; not a progression of the disease. I was formally diagnosed with Osteoporosis in January and added more tablets to my daily regimen. I was also hospitalised in January with severe septicaemia which fortunately cleared quickly. The cause and effect will be the subject of a special blog later on in the year. Jean thought I only arranged it to avoid moving house; I was admitted to hospital from our temporary accommodation the night before the big move and was released into our beautiful renovated/customised new home after the move was complete. My overall health improved in our new home; a lot done more to do.

I travelled a bit during the year. Jean and I went to Spain in April to recharge our batteries after the move and the associated hassle. I went to Rome for a Patient Summit with some of my fellow MS & Me bloggers courtesy of Novartis in May. Elaine and I travelled to London to a Rugby World Cup match in October. The match tickets came courtesy of Multiple Sclerosis Ireland.

Two of my nephews were married during the year and I was lucky enough to be invited to both. Mark and Lucy were married in Winchester in May and Sean and Heidi were married in Glengarriffe in August.

Jean and I have not ignored our home tourist industry. We visited Dublin Zoo and Farmleigh House in June.

We then visited Killarney and Muckross with the Beharie family in August.

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Jaunting Car in Muckross Park

Jean accompanied me to the MS AGM in The Red Cow Hotel in September. We stayed in The Gibson Hotel when we attended The 3 Arena for ‘How Now Mrs Brown’s Cow’ and the week beforethat I had stayed in The Spencer Hotel, Dublin with the MS & Me blogging team. Jean and I along with Elaine & Henry went to Thomond Park to see Munster v Treviso. It was Jean’s first live rugby match and the 4 of us stayed in The Strand Hotel which is only a short walk/wheel from Thomond.

I decided to try an alternative homeopathic remedy in October. It isn’t touted as a cure for MS or even able to alleviate the symptoms but on reading and researching the product I decided to try it. There was an immediate but short lived improvement and I discontinued it in December. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Periodically throughout 2015 my left hip has been “short circuiting/twitching”, MSers know what I mean and this resulted in a loss of confidence in unassisted walking – no support + twitch = fall.

My New Year Resolution for 2016 is to stand more and do more standing up; not to take the easy way out. If you can’t stand you definitely cannot walk; use it or lose it.

Categories: Dublin, England, Just thoughts, Kerry, Limerick, London, Spain | Tags: , , , , , | 11 Comments

Mid Week Break in Dublin

Jean and I headed for Dublin last Tuesday morning for a pre-Christmas, mid-week break courtesy of our two daughters (Elaine & Mairéad) and their respective husbands (Henry and Rowan). For those of you who don’t know Ireland Dublin is our capital city and seat of Government. It is about 2 ½ – 3 hours drive from Cork but us Corkonians believe that Cork is the Real Capital.

We were booked in for two nights at The Gibson Hotel (Click Here) and attend a show, How Now Mrs Browns Cow, in The 3 Arena (Click Here).

By the time we reached the hotel we were both gagging for a cuppa and after check-in we adjourned to the bar to relieve our thirst. The bar has quite an unusual name; the hemidemisemiquaver barand the cheesecake that Jean chose as an accompaniment was absolutely delicious. The public areas are all smooth floored and easily navigable in my wheelchair. There were 2 unusual art installations in the reception area.

We then proceeded to check out our bedroom. It was perfectly spacious and had a perfect en-suite bathroom with all the appropriate hand rails. The shower seat was at a perfect height for me as were the sink and mirror.

The hotel has 12 wheelchair accessible rooms.

We rested a while and then headed down for something more substantial to eat before going to the show. There is a wheelchair accessible toilet located at either end of the bar/dining area.

Accessible Toilet

Accessible Toilet

The food was fine and then we made our way to the 3 Arena, which is only a stone’s throw from the hotel, to see the show. The wheelchair section is on the First Floor and offers uninterrupted views of the stage. There are a number of accessible toilets and the upper floors are serviced by elevators. The old adage that ‘laughter is the best medicine’ is definitely true and Jean and I and thousands of others laughed our way through the two hour show and left in high spirits.

We were glad we were staying in the Gibson as the walk/roll back to the hotel took only moments.

There is Luas Tram Stop at the front door of the hotel and the following morning after breakfast we headed for one of the frequent trams and the short trip to the city centre for a bit of light shopping. O’Connell Street is wheelchair friendly and navigable unassisted if necessary.

We were really only browsing but did pop into a few shops for a look around. We yielded to temptation in Arnotts and had a cuppa and a cake. Not having bought very much we decided to call it a day and headed back to the hotel and a after a brief rest we headed over to Stillorgan to Anita and Jim’s home for a bite to eat and a catch up.

I know that it sounds as if we ate and drank our way through our short break but we really didn’t. Thursday morning came around and after check out we headed home and thankfully arrived safely with our batteries still fully charged from the inimical Mrs Brown and her Boys.

5 Accessibility Stars to both

The Gibson and The 3 Arena.

5 Laughability Stars to Mrs Brown and the Boys

Categories: Dublin | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Spencer Hotel, Dublin

The MS & Me blog (Click Here) team had our annual meeting in The Spencer Hotel (Click Here), Dublin earlier this week. The hotel is located in the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in the heart of Dublin. The train journey from home was uneventful and as usual The Irish Rail staff were as courteous and efficient as ever. It was lunch time when I arrived and after check in I decided to grab a bite to eat with my brother Eugene who had kindly met me at the train station. I had the best Chicken Caesar Salad ever (IMHO) and Eugene had a bowl of soup accompanied by some lovely brown bread.

The ground floor is totally accessible with non-carpeted floors; people who don’t use a wheelchair don’t realise how much energy is used in getting around in a manual wheelchair on carpet. There is a wheelchair accessible toilet on the ground floor and a low level desk for wheelchair users when signing the appropriate paperwork.

We had a very informative meeting among ourselves and some staff from Multiple Sclerosis Ireland (Click Here) and followed on with a Patient Focus Group with Novartis. With the business of the day concluded we adjourned to the hotel restaurant for food and beverages.

My allocated bedroom was on the first floor and it was perfect for my needs. A very wide entrance foyer led to the bathroom area and on into the bedroom. The bathroom was perfectly spacious with all the necessary handrails in the appropriate places. The sink was a marginally high and the marble splash back made preening myself slightly more difficult. The seat in the shower area was a first for me; it was cushioned and height adjustable. After a hearty breakfast the next morning I headed for the train station and my return trip home.

Accessibility Rating 5 Stars

Categories: Dublin | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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