This blog isn’t just about my progress as a rower, as I’m sure you’ll all be relieved to know. I was asked to write a piece on accessible housing, by the Papworth Trust, and thought i’d share here as it’s relevant to my life.
I moved into my current property several years ago, at a time when I could still mobilise indoors on crutches, and it did it’s job on the whole. Thankfully at the time I had a fantastic OT who had sorted out the basic equipment, and had managed to get a ramp built for me as I was deemed unsafe to get up the doorstep.
So the house was sorted, until my needs changed. Pretty much overnight I became a full time wheelchair user, and this is where the problems arose. The flat is a private rent, as there was nothing suitable in the area through the council. In an ideal world I’d have had the doors widened, shower taken out (I wasn’t giving up my bath for anything!!), kitchen adapted, but that wasn’t going to happen. Consequently every wall, door, table, appliance has been battered by my wheelchair. There are now dents where I can line up and fit through more easily, but it’s not ideal.
I haven’t moved for several reasons, firstly I thought it would just be a temporary short term need, and there are other reasons, but the underlying fact is, that council housing wouldn’t be able to provide me with exactly what I need anyway. Getting something semi suitable is hard enough, so I make do, I’ve learnt how to do things the safest way, usually as a result of a number of failed attempts, but it works.
I would dearly love to be somewhere I felt safe, and didn’t have to rely on others to do things for me, but it’s never going to happen, my requirements don’t fit the norm. I know I’m not alone in this situation, the dangerous transfers others also perform, the falls that could be prevented had there been space for the right equipment, and the malnutrition through lack of suitable kitchens.
Everyone’s accessibility needs are different and homes should be made to fit the persons needs, not the person fit the home.