You never real do know what life's going to throw at you at sometimes unforeseen circumstances befall us all. Sometimes, these unforeseen events can be much worse than others and have life altering consequences. This is the time when we have a choice of how we are going to react. Obviously all new situations take some adjustments but after this period, life does go on and it is how we adapt to it that will have the lasting effect.
One life altering event is that of becoming disabled through illness, accident or injury. Of course, nobody wants to find their abilities limited in any way but once the initial shock is over, there is plenty that can be done to help you lead as normal a life as possible.
First of all you should look to your local council as the government have schemes in place to help disabled people to stay in their own homes. Often, disabled people can become depressed, thinking that the disability means a loss of independence but this doesn't have to be so. Your local government will have details of the Independent Living Fund that will help you to pay for a carer if this is what it takes to keep you living in your own home.
There are also lots of adaptations that can be made to a home to assist the disabled to stay in their accommodation. The council are also in a position to help with the funding for this with a Disabled Facilities Grant. An occupational therapist can assess your needs and will help you apply for all the things you need to support you and enable you to avoid a care home.
So, what exactly can be covered with these grants? Anything from grab rails for that helping hand to larger items such as a walk in bath can be applied for under the scheme. If the applicant still has some mobility, then items like a stair lift would help to keep the whole of the house in use and can be installed relatively easy.
For wheelchair users, occasional or full time, there is plenty that can be paid for under this scheme to make sure you don't lose your independence. The cost of moving a bathroom downstairs, installing a walk in bath and widening doors for easy wheelchair access can all be met, depending on your financial circumstances, by the local authority.
Once access around the house has been sorted, it's time to look at the obvious rooms that might have difficulty such as the kitchen and bathroom. For the kitchen, many designers are catching on to the needs of the disabled and planning kitchens with devices that make it easier, not only for the disabled person but for anyone else who shares the home.
Worktops set at various heights, plinths that are set further back, side opening ovens that are set lower down on the wall and specially adapted sinks and taps are just a few of the things that can be altered for a home that shares able bodied and disabled occupants.
Using the bathroom can become an issue for people with limited mobility. Some benefit from walk in baths so that bending and leg lifting are minimal. They are also safer than struggling and are less dependent on someone else than a hoist. Grab rails at various heights are also a must have in the bathroom as well as non slip surfaces.
Sometimes, it is the minor things that can make a difference to a disabled person such as re-positioning of a light switch - the sorts of things the average person takes for granted but that all mount up to someone else maintaining their independence or losing it.
Interior design expert Catherine Harvey looks at the use of walk in baths as just one of the aids for disabled occupants.