For nearly a year, Drew and his wife Helen (64) had been living in a caravan, with no running water or central heating, 50 miles away from their home and support network.
The couple made the difficult decision to move out of their home after deciding that their two-floor house, with stairs inside and out and the bedroom and bathroom upstairs, was unsafe and unworkable for Drew to continue living in as his health deteriorated.
The couple made the desperate move to their holiday caravan in March 2018 because they knew that this was more accessible for Drew and would prevent him from becoming trapped in his own home.
The family decided to get in touch with MND Scotland’s Advocacy Service after receiving a letter stating that zero points had been awarded. The housing department later confirmed that this had been sent out in error, before the family had been assessed.
MND Scotland continued to support the family’s housing application to ensure that Drew was prioritised for suitable accessible housing.
After spending the next 11 months living in the caravan and applying for accessible homes in Cumnock in order to return home, Drew decided to speak out on STV News in January 2019 to highlight the shortage of accessible social housing in East Ayrshire, and throughout Scotland.
Less than eight weeks later the local authority contacted Drew to inform him that they had secured an accessible home for Drew, Helen, and their two 2-year old Shih Tzu dogs, Dibley and Harvey.
Drew said: “It was a massive relief for us to know that MND Scotland were working on this for us and it was a bigger relief to hear that East Ayrshire Council had finally found somewhere for us to live.
“It’s hard to tell, but I think MND Scotland’s Advocacy support, combined with the push on STV News, helped us get a positive result.
“I realise that there’s a lack of accessible homes, and that there are a lot of disabled people waiting, but I know that my condition is only going to get worse. I didn’t know what else I could do.”
Drew’s new home is a two bedroom bungalow, with a wet room, widened doors and passages, lowered kitchen worktops, and has a small garden.
“Everyone I’ve dealt with at the Council has been very nice to us, and despite waiting for a long time, I know that a lot of people with MND in the bigger cities never get moved at all.
“We came to see the new house on the 7th March and we went up to the council office straight away and signed the paperwork. We got the keys there and then and we decided to stay the night, rather than go back down to the caravan. So, I slept on a blow-up bed on the first night and then we started moving furniture in after that.
“It was hard for all of the family being so far away and the caravan was less than ideal – especially during the winter. Now that we’re back, our family can pop in almost every day and we can be close to both our friends and family again.
“Now we’re able to have some peace of mind and we can focus on managing the day-to-day with MND."
Susan Webster, MND Scotland’s Head of Policy and Campaigns, said: “It’s wonderful news to hear that Drew and Helen have finally been moved in to a suitable accessible home in Cumnock, near to their support network.
“This is really important for people affected by MND because as the disease progresses, more and more care and support is needed.
“It’s not acceptable that the McCartney’s were in the position of having to spend the winter in a caravan, far away from home with no central heating or running water.
“No family facing a rapidly progressive terminal illness, like Motor Neurone Disease, should have to deal with these kinds of issues alone. That’s why we’re here to support families while campaigning for more accessible housing and fairer allocation systems that will ensure people with MND are always prioritised.”
Susan Webster | Head of Policy and Campaigns