Staying Rather Than Moving: A Disabled Person's Story
Arthritis had confined May Carmichael, aged 78, to a wheelchair. Her house, however, was unsuitable for a disabled person. May therefore faced the distressing prospect of selling her home, where she had lived for 60 years. Fortunately, there was an alternative.
My Wish to Stay“I’d lived in my home for so long that I wanted to end my days there. I liked the area I lived in, and my daughter wasn’t far away.
“But I was having increasing trouble navigating my way round my Victorian terraced house in a wheelchair. The doorways were too narrow for the chair; the kitchen tops were too high; I had difficulty reaching light switches; and, of course, I couldn’t get up the stairs.
Disabled Facilities Grant“It was my daughter, Joan, who told me about a disabled facilities grant. She’d found out that someone like me could apply for a grant to adapt my home so I could stay there rather than move. This was great news. All I had to do was agree not to move for at least five years. That suited me fine.
“Joan and I contacted the local council for advice. After a week or so, an occupational therapist came round. She agreed with Joan and I that I needed wider doorways, lower switches, lower kitchen tops, and a stairlift. The therapist also suggested we install a downstairs toilet, and put a ramp from the kitchen door into the garden.
“Obviously, I was delighted, but I began to worry about the cost. The occupational therapist explained that she’d write up her notes, and send me an application form for the grant. She said I’d have to give details of my income and savings because the grant was means-tested. I said I didn’t mind: I didn’t have much to declare anyway!
Building Work“Joan helped me fill out the grant application form, and get some quotes for the work on the house. The therapist had sent me a list of recommended builders, so this made things easier.
“Unfortunately, all the builders who came said there would be a problem putting in a downstairs toilet. Joan came to my rescue, however, and suggested we call in an architect.
“An architect came round, and said that the job could be done, but we’d need a small extension out the back. As a result, we’d need planning permission. The architect said he could help arrange to get the permission, but the process would take a little while. Joan and I asked him to go ahead, anyway.
“When Joan explained all this to the council, the gentleman there said he could pay the grant in two phases. The first would cover the work of widening the doors, and so on. The second phase would pay for the new downstairs toilet. This way, some work could begin without delay.
“This seemed a good solution. At the same time, the council confirmed that because of my low income and savings, I wouldn’t have to contribute to the cost of adapting my home. Apparently, the most the council would pay was £30,000. Luckily the work I needed, including the new toilet, was less than this."
I’m Still in My Home“That was two years ago. I’m still in my home and I’m very pleased with the work the builders, and the architect, did.
“The planning permission for the downstairs toilet took a while to come through, but it eventually arrived. In the meantime, the builders did all the other jobs.
“I can move around the house easily now and live without much help. Joan simply pops in every few days to see how I am. I’m certainly happy with the thought that I can stay in my home until the end of my days.”