Ellie’s new house: Specially adapted house transforms life for Shropshire teenager
13 February 2017
Ellie is just like any other teenager; she loves Ollie Murs, sparkly nails, all things pink, and is working hard at school so she can follow her dream to study small animal practice at college. Ellie also has a complex and severe disability as a result of Spina Bifida, which means she is paralysed from her chest down and has to deal with a wide range of physical and physiological challenges. These challenges also affect her family, Diane her mum and 20 year old brother, as well as those who care for her.
Having spent 15 years trapped within a home not suitable for her needs, The Wrekin Housing Trust was contacted by Shropshire Council to help find a housing solution for Ellie and her family.
As her old house could not be adapted to meet her complex needs, Ellie was confined to the lounge area whenever she was home, both day and night, due to her need to use a large electric wheelchair. Needing 24 hour care, including overnight care and supervision, and not having the space to offer suitable night accommodation to carers, meant Diane also slept in the living room so that Ellie was not left alone.
Working alongside independent Occupational Therapist, Maggie Downs and Shropshire Council, the Trust were able to utilise funding from various sources including £25,000 from the Homes and Communities Association and £70k from the Council, which included a disability facility grant of £30K to purchase the three bedroomed house in Harlescott, Shrewsbury and undertake the bespoke adaptions required to make a real difference for the family.
What the adaptation consists of: The solution
An extension at the rear of the house has created a larger bedroom space, bathroom and flows into a lounge area that doubles up as an overnight accommodation for a carer. A ceiling hoist system allows easy movement between each area, so that manual lifting of Ellie is no longer necessary as she can be moved easily between her bed, the bathroom and her wheelchair with the help of her carer or family. There is plenty of room for the use of the larger wheelchair and the space is also able to accommodate other equipment, like standing frames that could not have been used previously at home.
Steve Swann, Development Manager at the Trust, said: “We are delighted to be able to provide and adapt this house specifically for Ellie and her family. The accommodation has been carefully designed around some very complex needs resulting in a fantastic space that really works. Some of the thoughtful, but simple changes we have incorporated into the design include a lowered work surface in the kitchen area so that she can enjoy baking, and a glazed panel between the living area and bedroom to allow a level of privacy for both Ellie and her carer.”
Mum, Diane, said: “Our move to this house has been amazing. With carer Kathryn by her side, Ellie is now free to go to the local shops and enjoy her crafts and makeup. Ellie’s also able to move around the house with Garthy, our cat, on her lap; it’s a simple thing but she wouldn’t have been able to do it before. When Ellie would have been confined to her bed mid-morning, she can now get up and enjoy baking or playing with her Lego sets. Even bathing used to be difficult, as she had to go to Hope House to use their facilities whenever she wanted a bath. Now we can easily lift Ellie into her own bath; it’s really changed our lives.”
Ellie simply says: “I’m so much happier! I feel like there are no limits on what I can do around the house or in the garden. I love that I can bake in the kitchen, although my family are now worried about their waist lines because of all the cakes I’ve made! All of the barriers I had before are now gone.”
The family are now looking to further improve their home with the addition of new family member; six year old adopted Labrador Dawson and have plans to adapt the garden space with raised beds and covered walkways to maximise the space, allowing Ellie and her family to really make the most out of their new home.