I just got back from a break with my family and although it’s always nice to get away, I’m relieved to be back in my accessible bungalow!
We were staying with relatives and I knew it would be challenging for me, but I always underestimate how disabled I feel when I’m not at home. I had no choice but be carried up the stairs by my husband and brother and the terror this evoked made me want to stay in rather than venture outside. I got out by bumping down the stairs one by one on my bottom while my scooter was carried over my head.
The shower was also difficult, although not impossible, thanks to my husband being tall and strong but it was frustrating having to be taken to the toilet rather than coming and going as I pleased.
This got me thinking about all the MSers trapped by inaccessible accommodation.
Home should be the place where you feel the most safe and secure and not somewhere you feel trapped, house-bound and isolated.
I was so lucky that we bought our bungalow before I needed it and as a result, I’ve been able to future proof it and adapt it as my needs have changed.
We built an extension with an en-suite bathroom for me, for example, and the council have recently adapted it, so it has handrails and a level shower with a shower seat attached to the wall. I can scoot right in and shower independently (with a little help getting back on my scooter afterwards) I can go to the toilet on my own too which is so important for self-esteem.
I also have a ramp down from my decking at the back and an automatic side gate so I can trundle off to the shops with my kids if I like as well as plenty of parking.
All these little changes mean I feel less disabled at home as it’s easy for me. When friends come round I can almost forget I’ve got MS and feel just like everybody else.
I have a colleague whose mum has MS and refuses to move to a more suitable house, preferring to use a commode than admit her stairs are too much! She feels that moving to a bungalow is like admitting defeat or something but why struggle on if you don’t have to?
I also have friends who are stuck because they have too many stairs and others who can’t park anywhere near their front door.
There are thousands of disabled people in this county who can’t afford to move or who are waiting to be rehoused into more suitable accommodation. These are the people I feel so heart broken for. How are you meant to work, for example, if you can’t even get out of the house? What about social isolation, depression and despair that could all be avoided if there were more accessible properties available? What is the answer for these people?