A VULNERABLE 91-year-old living on her own in sheltered accommodation was left without any contact to the outside world for two weeks after a fault with her phone line.

Elizabeth Nash-Webber was without access to a phone from Thursday, May 14, while isolating at her home in Griffithstown.

Crucially, her emergency ‘lifeline’ call system – the button she presses to contact help if she has a fall or becomes ill – is linked to the landline, meaning she was unable to call for help until it was fixed.


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Her niece, Patricia Byrne, 68, lives in Waterlooville in Hampshire, so was unable to contact Mrs Nash-Webber, and said nothing was done for a fortnight, despite her calling phone line provider TalkTalk five times.

The provider only fixed Mrs Nash-Webber’s phone line on Thursday, May 28, after the Argus stepped in.

“It frightened me,” Mrs Byrne said. “A normal 91-year-old is frail, but Elizabeth has memory problems and heart problems, and she can’t rely on her neighbours as they are all isolating too.

“Her lifeline call system depends on her landline being connected.

“There is a lady on the top floor who can see her from her window, and was able to check if she was opening the curtains in the morning and closing them at night, but she couldn’t go down there herself.

(Patricia Byrne, 68, from Waterlooville in Hampshire, was concerned about her aunt Elizabeth Nash-Webber who was left isolated for two weeks. Picture: Patricia Byrne)

“I wasn't able to speak to her for over two weeks. I’m her next of kin and we keep in touch regularly. My husband and I tend to take care of things for her.

“People like us have mobile phones, by Elizabeth does not. She had no way to contact anyone. I couldn't just go running up there.

“Normally when Elizabeth is ill, I’m straight in my car to deal with things for her, but I couldn't even do that.

“She was not able to call anyone or see anyone. She’s vulnerable and was left on her own.”

After the Argus contacted TalkTalk, the company said they would "escalate" Mrs Nash-Webber's case and investigate it internally.

A TalkTalk spokeswoman said: “We sincerely apologise for the customer's recent experience and the disruption to their service.

“While the initial fault was fixed last week, we escalated the additional fault as a high priority welfare case and an engineer was sent to resolve the issue.

“We will be providing a goodwill gesture and registering the customer for accessibility requirements so that they have access to our priority service line in future.”

Mrs Byrne said her aunt was straight on the phone once her service was restored.

"She rang me immediately," she said. "I explained what happened and now she's happy that everything is back to normal."