Planning for Stew’s homecoming
As a family we have had many a conversation or even dare I call it ‘family meetings’ about bringing Stew home.
Back in October 2007 when Stew had his accident and even in the few months that followed I think we only had one thought… ‘Stew must come home – that’s where he belongs!’ As time went by and Stew wasn’t showing any improvement our other 3 boys were really worried that we would be taking on more than we could possibly cope with. They kindly pointed out that we weren’t getting any younger, (how cheeky) and were worried, if it should come to it, that they might not be able to look after him as we could? They were also concerned that Trev and I, just in our 50’s, were not going to be able to enjoy our life doing ‘normal’ things!
However, as time went by and Stew showed signs of improvement and more awareness we arranged for the Occupational Therapists (OT’s) from the Royal Hospital, Putney and from Woking to visit our home to make sure the house would take Stew’s wheelchair and also room for a hospital style bed and manual hoist. All agreed, Stew started to come home at weekends and we soon realised that to be at ‘home’ was the best for him.
Decision made… what next? We were put in contact with our local council ‘Homelink’ and also the Social Services in Surrey.
What is Homelink?
Homelink is a small, not for profit Home Improvement Agency. They are funded and supported by local and central government.
Homelink offers advice, support and assistance to elderly, disabled and vulnerable people who privately rent or own and live in their own property and who wish to repair, improve or adapt it in order to continue living there. (Stew although 25, when he had his accident and now 29 had always lived in the family home and so this applied to our home.)
Meetings were arranged and a local Occupational Therapist came to assess our house and decide whether any alterations could be done to enable Stew to have an approved sized bedroom and wet room. Every idea needed to be looked at and various options arose… from a full extension at the front of the house, to a lift from a downstairs room to an upstairs room to the eventual winner… an extension at the back of the house, with Stew taking over the kitchen plus the extension and the kitchen being moved to the front of the house. I want to take this opportunity to thank all the staff at Woking Homelink and the OT’s from Surrey with the anticipated build at 182, so helpful!
Grants and Top up loans
We were informed that Stew would be entitled to a full Disability Facilities Grant (DFG) of £30,000. The alterations to our house would exceed this amount so a top up would be necessary. Panic sets in…. will this be agreed? The grant and top up is means tested on the disabled person or spouse and lengthy forms need to be completed. Stew had always lived at home and like most young people had zero in savings!!! With the help from Judy at Homelink the forms were completed and necessary bank evidence presented and thankfully all agreed!! Next step, with funding agreed in principle Homelink arrange for their architect to visit and start the drawing of plans.
Ian, the architect came and after the long job of drawing and putting his first plans forward, they were rejected, not expected by any of us! So a quick meeting at 182 was organised to think of another plan. We arranged for a local councillor to come to the meeting as well and between us ideas started to come. Ian, our architect then worked very fast and in a matter of a few weeks another plan was submitted!
Thankfully this went through no problems! Ian arranged for three different building companies, usually used by the local council for disabled builds, to come round to our house to put in tenders. These tenders were looked at and compared by the Council and after a few weeks they agreed as to which one of the companies would build the extension for Stewart. At the time of writing, August 2011, we are waiting for the joint meeting to agree the finer details of the build and then the ok to start.
Once the build has started we will need to start the next phase of organising Stew’s care at home. This is a new area for us and one that I will be talking to Sue about at length, seeing as she has been through this when she got Charles home. An update will follow...