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As someone that is disabled I am more aware than many of the ‘services’ that are available to help us manage to live an independent life in our own home. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ **I should add here that this opinion also relates to the consumer. Everything I speak of was bought by us, from people we chose and none were simply forced on us** ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ During the early months, and years, of my disability I felt very alone, very isolated and as if there was nothing, nor anyone, that could, or would, help me. I soon found out just how wrong I was. My GP and my surgeon had both contacted Social Services to alert them to the fact I was in need of evaluation at home, in an attempt to see just what needed to be changed to help me manage as well as remain in my home. I, being a little old school, and a lot stubborn, only heard the words “Social Worker” and was not ready to have any of it. I had heard how they dig in to your life, how they become very much in control of things and I was going to get better, to walk and I was also going to work again…. Or so I thought. Because of this, and my ignorance of just what it is this service really offers, I just wanted to be left alone to make the best I could of what life I had. For over 2 years, and despite numerous telephone calls from the Social Worker, I resisted any home visit, indeed any contact at all. In the end this lady rang again and asked if I would allow her to call even if it was just so she could close my case file, and, after some thought and a lot of persuading I agreed to talk to her. She turned out to be just like you and me, a “normal” human being, someone that really only wanted to help if she could and in no way interested in making me feel trapped or uncomfortable at all. It turned out that she herself was disabled, by the pain and treatment for the cancer she had, and I started to wonder why I had bee
n so darn difficult all this time. She called round, made herself at home and over coffee we chatted, well she and my wife mainly if I am honest, and she saw that I wasn’t managing well at all. My home is a standard mid terraced home with the bathroom and WC, along with the bedrooms, upstairs and I was only going up those stairs once in a while, in fact only when I really had to. I was sleeping, for the most, in an armchair or on the floor downstairs and even that was not comfortable. She just looked at me and asked why? Why have you allowed your life to become so restricted? Why is it you fear the help on offer and what is it about me that upsets you? Of course I had to admit, having met the lady, nothing upset me about her but I explained my feelings, and she really understood. Of course she was female and she couldn’t resist the chance to remind me about male pride! But what she did was put me at ease and then explain just what she, and her department, could do to help me. I will list what changed, and who was responsible/involved, and see if you are as shocked as I was when offers became reality. There are many services for the disabled, or people with a disability and most you would never have thought about. What I ended up with was… ~~Within hours~~ An electric recliner/stander chair, to help me until things could be changed. The offer of bottles etc. to save having to climb the stairs every time I needed a wee. The permanent, free, loan of a wheelchair. 24/7 telephone contact with a case worker. Claim forms to apply for a grant towards altering my house to meet my needs. ~~I went on to have~~ An 8mtr extension built on my house, to enable the ground floor to be made 100% wheelchair user friendly. The extension was needed so I could have a ground floor bedroom, shower room/WC, larger kitchen, larger door frames, new lounge (the old one had now become my bedroom) a newly fitted, and enlar
ged, kitchen/dinner to allow for wheelchair use. Plus many other alterations to allow me to use my home easier. Total cost of the work was over £30,000. ~~The people/agencies/groups/services involved were.~~ **Social Services.** Of course this is where my case worker cam from (Note I say Case Worker and not Social Worker) This lady, and her team, were able to lend me equipment and aids to ease living at home. They were able to negotiate, on my behalf, with, the DSS, The Local Council, Hospitals, Doctors, Solicitor, Insurance Company.. and much, much more. They were able to ease one of my biggest concerns following my accident.. that being the worry about how we would manage if I was not working. **District Council.** It may surprise you to learn that the councils *Environmental Health Department handles all claims for home improvement grants for disabled people. (The money comes from central government and not local taxes) They were also able to help us better decide what, and where, we would like things too. Another department at the council that played a massive part, by our choice, was their *Planning Department. We decided it would be easier to use their drawing office, surveyors, building inspectors and Planning Department (on a paid as used basis, just like in the real world) because that way everything was under the one roof. They drew up the plans; three sets in all because we didn’t like certain things in the first two. Put the work out for tender to five building companies and draw up a very comprehensive specification list of the work to be done, even down to the size of nails in a piece of wood. We also employed our Clerk of Works from within the council too. I should add that by doing all this we saved over £2000 on the next cheapest estimate we asked for. Another department from the council that helped us a great deal was the *Housing Department. Even though we own our home they were will, free of
charge, to act as the go between our mortgage company and us so as to keep them updated of the changes to the house. This was another worry gone, and one we had not even really considered. Al the council departments above, plus a few more, were there, ready and able, to help me live as near a normal life as possible, despite my disability, in my own home. They may have been paid to do the work but I can assure you they were far better than any money could buy, they really cared. **Local Hospital Trust.** These were able to help me by way of their *Independent Living Unit. These guys were able to suggest, obtain or loan me, much of the equipment I would need in my new home. They had names and addresses of specialist suppliers, could show/lend me certain items to see if it met my needs before I bought them, and they visited my home, with my case worker, to help plan out what I needed. I was also supported, and still am, by the Trusts Physiotherapy Department, Occupational Therapy Unit and Pain Management Unit. **The builder** Again this guy could just see me as another job but he didn’t. He explained everything he was going to need to do and warned us of any major disruption. He even helped us move things around so that they were neither damaged, nor in the way during the work. All in all he was very thoughtful and very helpful. The total cost of all this work was, as I said earlier, over £30.000 but due to help, and advice, I got awarded a claim for £20.000 and was able to also secure a further grant of £2.500 from local government. (County Council) Which meant all I had to pay was around £7.500, plus all the new fittings. I have to say I feel that was a good investment, even though it left us with very little savings. I now live a pretty independent life, in my own home that is altered to suit many of my needs while not hindering those of my wife and three children who do not have a disability. During all of
this I was still getting first class treatment from the hospital in London, where I receive much of my treatment now. They too, well my Pain Management Consultant and case worker, who was also a Psychologist, had an input in what may, or may not be of benefit to me by way of changes. So as you can see there are a lot of “services” out there that are willing, and able, to help. Once you have found one then they will find the rest for you. My life is, without doubt, so very much better for their help I could not start to explain. My advice to anyone in a similar situation is, do not allow pride to stop you asking for help, I suffered for 2-3 years more than I needed to because of pride. This is not charity it is your right and believe me once you make that first move you will soon see just how much these guys want to help.
Are you disabled? Do you know someone who is disabled? On the other hand, are you interested in disability matters? Well if the following applies to you. There is a specialist disability magazine called Disability Now, which is published every month. Disability Now has many sections, all of which are related to disability. News The news section covers all the latest disability news, such as new drugs, benefit changes, government initiatives and readers problems. This section keeps you bang up to date which all the latest disability news. For example the government is planning to give carers a £2 rise, it's not a lot but it's a start. You don't hear this information on the news until months later, so as you can see you get the news hot of the press. Features. This section is divided into numerous smaller segments. This section is generally less serious than the news section. It features topics such as sport, adapted cars and vans. There is also a section where you can voice your views and there is also a disability agony aunt. After reading all this you can relax and take a look at the fun and games section, which has a crossword and horoscopes. As with most magazines the back pages are dedicated to events, classified and job vacancies. This magazine is a must for any disabled person. Remember you don't hear the full story on the news, but this magazine gives you the facts. It's jargon free and well put together. This magazines costs £1.50 an issue, but you will probably find it difficult to get a copy. You best bet is taking out a subscription. Pricing. Are you on income support, housing benefit, disabled persons tax credit or job seekers allowance? If you are on any of the following benefits, you're subscription will be free. All you have to do is send in proof of your entitlement. Telephone 020 7619 7317 and they will arrange things with you. Ordinary ra
tes. Individual at home address 1 year £18 2 year £35 Professional Organisation 1 year £28 2 year £53 Europe 1 year £33 Rest of World 1 year £35 If you require further information, about subscriptions send a comment. Disability Now also have a fantastic website packed with information the address is www.disabilitynow.org.uk