Lois contacted We Care for advice after her husband David had some falls at home. He had been advised that he was no longer safe using the stairs at home by a healthcare professional and Lois was in the process of arranging for him to live downstairs in the dining room, which she knew would be very disruptive and impractical for them.
David was diagnosed with Parkinson’s with dementia in 2011 and his walking ability has gradually declined over the years. Lois was aware that David might need to use a wheelchair in the future and she wanted to explore the possibility of extending the back of the house to create a downstairs bedroom and bathroom.
How We Care was able to help
After an initial phone call the couple agreed to a home visit from Maria, our in-house occupational therapist (OT). Maria visited Lois and David to gain a full understanding of the couple’s needs. The attachment to their home and their desire to continue living there was clear.
“It was a relief to get professional advice from Maria and Fatima as I had no idea what to expect or what was needed”
Maria returned at a later date with our technical lead, Fatima, who was able to survey the property to establish what was structurally possible. Lois said ‘It was a relief to get professional advice from Maria and Fatima as I had no idea what to expect, or what was needed”.
Given that Lois and David live on a very steep hill, Fatima explained that it would be very difficult to extend the property, and that it would be a timely, disruptive and expensive undertaking if they did decide to adapt their home.
The team recommended Lois and David explore all of their options before making such a big decision. Lois remembers when the team first asked if they had ever thought about moving, her reaction was very strong – ‘definitely not!’. Having spent 18 years making a house into a home, they felt they had too much to lose. Lois was also concerned about how David might manage in a different environment due to his dementia.
The couple agreed to be referred to our Housing Options service (funded by Bristol Ageing Better) for support with this. Our case worker, Michael, visited the couple to discuss all of their options and help them make an informed decision.
“People are often overwhelmed at the thought of moving home, but it can be the right decision for some, especially when the home environment works against them and their personal needs”
Michael says “People are often overwhelmed at the thought of moving home, but it can be the right decision for some, especially when the home environment works against them and their personal needs”.
For Lois and David, the location of their home on a steep hill was their biggest hurdle. Even if the home was extended to include a downstairs bedroom and bathroom, David would still face significant difficulties getting up and down the steep driveway – eventually this could lead him to become housebound and lessen his quality of life a great deal.
Luckily, during these discussions Lois and David had a well-timed holiday planned to an Our Bench Accessible cottage which gave them the opportunity to experience staying in a wheelchair accessible bungalow first hand.
“The holiday made me realise there is a different way of living.”
Lois said “The holiday made me recognise there is a different way of living. Everything had become difficult at home and we just got on with it. In the bungalow, it was all so much easier than going out at our house. David was able to enjoy going out because he didn’t need to waste energy getting out of the house and up the driveway. He was able to shower every day and it was so much easier for me to care for him”.
On return from their holiday, Lois realised that although she found the prospect of moving daunting, it would be worth it in the end. The couple began viewing local bungalows for sale and got back in touch with We Care for advice on making the entrance wheelchair friendly and installing an accessible bathroom.
Lois said “It was very reassuring to us to know that once we had found our dream bungalow we would have help, support and expertise of the team at We Care to enable us to adapt the bungalow to meet our needs. It was one less thing to worry about”.
They have now had an offer accepted on the bungalow and are looking forward to a new way of living.
How we can help you
- Call us on 0300 323 0700 for a chat with our technical team to find out how we can help you adapt your property. We are open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm.
- Or send us a message and we can get in touch with you.
- If you are considering a bathroom adaptation, you can pop into our Bristol showroom to see some examples of our stylish yet accessible bathrooms
Do you need help exploring your housing options?
- Call us on 0300 323 0700 and ask to speak to our Housing Options service
Could a holiday in an accessible home help you make your mind up about adapting your home?
Lois and David’s stay at an Our Bench accessible cottage was crucial in helping them decide to move to a more accessible home. Helen’s runs Our Bench with her family. She says it is not uncommon for those that stay in the accessible cottages to go on to decide to make changes to their homes based on their positive experience.
If you’d like to know more, given Our Bench a call on 07751 064167.