My fiancé Dan has a rare, degenerative, neurological condition called Friedreich’s Ataxia. At the moment, there is no cure for FA. You can read more about FA here: What is Friedreich's Ataxia?
Dan had his diagnosis when he was 19 (he's now nearly 30), and since then the condition has been gradually worsening. Dan now uses a wheelchair and unfortunately, as his mobility decreases, his flat is starting to become more and more difficult to live in. To give just one example: the small bathroom doesn’t allow his wheelchair in, and so he has to use his walking frame to get up to the door and then negotiate the bathroom relying on the grab rails and holding onto the sink. This is simply unsafe and recently he has had a few scary falls in there resulting in plenty of cuts and bruises. Not only is this painful, upsetting and dangerous for Dan, I hate having to see him struggle and hurt himself, and I feel totally helpless.
It's so important that Dan keeps as much of his independence for as long as possible, but to do that, we need a suitable home. We are working hard towards a home where we can safely enjoy our time together as ‘normally’ as possible.
We need to move into our new accessible and future-proof home as soon as we can. We want to be able to live safely and as independently as we can, but it’s not well-known how difficult it is to get into an accessible home.
There are very few pre-existing bungalows on the market that meet Dan’s needs, and the ones that are out there are way out of our budget. We think we have a few options, including buying an existing bungalow and modifying it (but this leaves the issue of where to live during that time), or buying a plot of land and doing a self-build with a small pre-fabricated bungalow. Either way, it’s not going to be easy, or cheap.
A survey of English councils by Habinteg housing association, a specialist provider found that outside London, only 23% of homes due to be built by 2030 are planned to meet basic accessibility criteria – an entrance-level toilet, for instance, or bathroom walls strong enough to bear the fitting of grab rails if required – while just 1% will be wheelchair accessible. And these worrying stats will be an improvement on the current situation.
In a Housing Standards Review, it was found that compared to the costs of other homes, provision for wheelchairs comes at a heftier £17,000 for an adaptable property or almost £30,000 for full wheelchair accessibility, because of the additional space required.
So with councils and developers seriously failing to provide much needed accessible homes, people with disabilities are forced to consider buying unsuitable homes and making the necessary changes. But this isn’t exactly affordable either, with works often costing tens of thousands of pounds. And where do you live whilst the building works are being done?
This is the problem that not just Dan and I face, but so many other disabled people too. We have considered going on Channel 4’s ‘Location, Location, Location’ to give Kirstie and Phil a real challenge, but the disappointment and frustration probably wouldn’t make very good TV!
Neither of us like asking for anything, and we are not completely comfortable with this… but to help us get into our new accessible home, we have set up this fundraising page (which hopefully you will understand our reasons for after reading!). ANY contributions will make a difference and we will be so, so grateful for every single penny that people might be able to give. Thank you for reading.
Our blog: https://www.headoverwheelsx.com
Blog about the accessible homes problem: https://headoverwheelsx.com/accessible-homes-challenges/