Irish Wheelchair Association is so important to me, without them I’d be lost

Pat Lowe from Mallow said he would be lost without Irish Wheelchair Association always. But especially now.

Sixty-eight-year-old Pat Lowe acquired his disability after a fall down the stairs in 2004. He broke three bones in his neck and had to spend twelve months in hospital and the National Rehabilitation Centre in Dún Laoghaire.

After his rehabilitation, Pat moved back to his home in Mallow, Co. Cork, which he shares with his brother, to begin his new journey. Pat’s injury meant that he was paralysed from the neck down and needed to learn how to use a powerchair and to adapt his home to be completely wheelchair accessible.  

Irish Wheelchair Association has been supporting Pat since he returned home after his accident. Pat receives daily personal assistant (PA) care from his two PAs every morning and evening. Pat’s PAs tend to all his personal care needs. In the morning, they help get him out of bed, shower, get dressed and prepare breakfast, and in the evening his PA will help him to bed.

Essentially, Pat’s personal assistants are his arms and legs, supporting him to live the independent life of his choosing. He explains that if he did not have Irish Wheelchair Association’s personal assistants to support him during the COVID-19 pandemic, things would be “very bad for him“.  

He says: “Irish Wheelchair Association is so important to me. Without them, I would be in a nursing home, but I want to be at home. With the PA support I have plenty of independence.”

Pat has developed close relationships with his PAs over the past number of years. He explains that he never needs to worry. He knows that Irish Wheelchair Association PAs would never let him down.  “They are not just my PAs, they are my friends,” he says.

For the last five years, Pat has also been attending Irish Wheelchair Association’s community centre in Mallow every Monday and Thursday. The community centre gives Pat an important social outlet and supports him with visits to the doctors and anything else he needs in the community.

“Irish Wheelchair Association is so important to me. Without them, I would be in a nursing home, but I want to be at home. With the PA support I have plenty of independence.

Due to COVID-19 social distancing, all Irish Wheelchair Association community centres have been temporarily closed. Pat says: “I really miss everything about going to the centre, especially the laugh and the craic.”

He explains that without the help of Irish Wheelchair Association, he would be very isolated and lonely during Covid-19. Irish Wheelchair Association staff have helped Pat get a Zoom account, and now he is having regular calls with his fellow Irish Wheelchair Association Mallow members. 

Irish Wheelchair Association is a massive part of my life,” says Pat. “I would encourage people to support them during this very difficult time, so they can continue to deliver their vital services to over 4,000 people.

“Irish Wheelchair Association is so important to me. Without them, I would be in a nursing home, but I want to be at home. With the PA support I have plenty of independence.

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Help Irish Wheelchair Association continue to support those that are at high risk due to COVID-19. Each year IWA needs to raise over €3 million to ensure our services can continue.

Irish Wheelchair Association is a member of Charities Institute Ireland and is "triple locked". We operate best practice in transparency and accountability.