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Head of Practice Area - Serious Injuries
A spinal injury can disrupt your life, and that of those around you, in an unimaginable way. The level of disability and the level of independence that can be achieved will help inform whether the accommodation is suitable.
This involves assessment as to whether the accommodation allows sufficient access, room and ability to circulate around the house, space, reducing dependence on others and preserving privacy and dignity wherever possible.
What might suit now might not be so suitable later on – needs can change. Locality and availability of local amenities and a social life are also likely to need to be factored in as will the views of others who share (or perhaps own) the house.
Some need to organise only minor adaptations to the accommodation they were living in at the time of the injury or illness. Some will need moderate alterations and adaptation (lifts, conversion of downstairs loos to wet rooms, door widening, access ramps, change of flooring). For others major alterations are necessary.
Sometimes a new property that can be adapted is needed or it might be that land is needed on which to build a new property specifically designed to meet needs identified. You should not have to pay VAT for some building work and you may also be entitled to a Council Tax reduction. Mandatory disabled facilities grants for housing repair, adaptation and improvements are sometimes available from local authorities.
A grant, which may involve making a financial contribution and will almost certainly take time to process (local authorities have six months to make a decision on the grant from the date of the application) can make some difference in making accommodation more suitable than it was. Sometimes home improvement agencies are also able to help.
Those who seek social housing assistance should ensure they are on a housing register. It is important to be clear about your requirements on that register. Most housing association properties are allocated via local authorities but some operate their own waiting lists and so it is worth contacting those directly. Aspire, a charity which supports those with a spinal injury to organise short term supported housing, might also be able to assist.
Wherever possible engaging with an architect specialising in accommodation, adaptation and design for those with spinal cord injuries is vitally important. Equally working with a project manager to ensure the building work runs smoothly is worth exploring. Help from the spinal centre, from case managers, disability rights specialists, and home improvement agencies is almost always going to be useful.
Take a look at our video on how we can help adapt your accommodation so it works best for you.