Lucy has profound disabilities both physical and learning, the house is swamped with her equipment, and it has no downstairs loo.
As she is showing promise in the toilet training department, a downstairs loo, as unglamorous as it sounds, is top of our housing priorities. Bungalows would be the sensible option, but largish ones are sadly lacking in our town & budget so a house it has to be.
Two years ago, the Occupational Therapist from Social Services visited us and bluntly declared that our house was too small to adapt, she suggested instead that we put our names on the Council housing list. Being home owners for more than 10 years that came as a shock and we resolutely set about proving her wrong.
Applying to charities for a stair lift and bath lift, we muddled through, but our needs as a family have now outgrown those efforts. Looking for a new house is supposed to be fun, but we have to exclude so many as even if they do have the holy grail of downstairs loos (big enough for disabled person and carer) the house also needs so many other elements.
Level access, ideally off road parking near to the house, no steps to the garden, a floor plan that allows for a lift, a ‘flow’ around rooms for a walker to manoeuvre and a bathroom that can keep a bath lift in it and a separate shower. If that bathroom is near to a bedroom big enough for Lucy’s special high low bed then all the better, as tracking will probably move in with us at some point too. If I thought the house searching part was disheartening it has nothing on the house selling part and dealing with viewers.
Yesterday in the space of three minutes the woman walking around my home asked, “Who uses this?” pointing to the stair lift, “What’s this?” pointing to the high low bed and eventually the inevitable “What’s wrong with your daughter?” none of which were her business but in what felt like a hostage situation I garbled answers.
A home is also more than just bricks and mortar, it is a sanctuary and vault of memories both good and bad.
Our current home has welcomed an army of therapists, social workers, and carers.
It has repeatedly allowed in ambulance staff in the middle of the night to whisk us off to hospital, stood sentry over us and buffered our overspill of emotions when needed.
It also welcomed our tiny baby when she finally came home from the special care baby unit.
It has provided a safe haven to our family and been a port in every storm we weathered.
It has hosted family celebrations, delighted in being dressed up for birthdays and Christmases and evolved with our taste in decorating.
Those memories are hard to leave behind and we will miss this home, for all of those reasons, but it is time to hand it over to someone else to love it and it to nurture them too.
As for us, the search continues for our next sanctuary and place to grow in as a family, I know it is out there somewhere just waiting to be found.