My Home Truths
2 February 2015
by Adam Margolis
In February 2006 I was diagnosed with MS. I was working as an estate agent and had noticed my leg was dragging and not swinging through properly so my GP referred me to a neurologist and after an MRI scan and a spinal tap, I was given the diagnosis.
As my MS progressed, my wife Laura and I decided to sell our house and start looking for a bungalow as I was really struggling to get up the stairs.
It was very difficult to find disabled-friendly homes. By the time we got round to buying a bungalow I could no longer climb stairs, and we were forced to settle for one that was not disabled-friendly, thinking that we could adapt it once we had moved in. We just didn’t realise how much work it would need to make it disabled-friendly.
The local NHS centre arranged for an occupational therapist (OT) to assess our bungalow and recommend adaptions. The OT saw that the bungalow was totally unsuitable for my needs — I couldn't get in the shower or even over the threshold of the front door. I had been feeling like a prisoner in my own home.
The OT started a care plan to see how they could help. They were amazing, advising me on a full range of disabled products and adaptations our home needed.
But it needed a lot of work to make it accessible, a lot of which would have been easy to do when it was originally built — such as putting the plug sockets at the right height and ensuring doorways were wide enough for wheelchairs — rather than having to adjust them later.
The whole house is planned for my needs — but you’d never know from looking at it. The bathroom looks like any other, with no specific adaptions — just inclusive design such as a sink my wheelchair can get under, and grab rails that double as the shower head bar — so it fits my needs as well as the family’s. I can now get into my children’s rooms to say goodnight, and out into the garden.
It was fantastic to have the support and advice of the NHS centre’s OT. I no longer feel like a prisoner in my own home. We were even featured on Sarah Beeny’s Double Your Home for Half the Price to show how disabled-friendly homes can be achieved without sacrificing good design.
But we had to get a loan to pay for the adaptations, and it took a lot of work. By building to Lifetime Homes standards, we can make sure that it is much easier and cheaper. The housing industry has to change to make this a reality for everyone.
Adam is supporting our Home Truths campaign for more disabled-friendly homes.