Moving from residential care to a wheelchair property

How we helped Tommy to move from shared accommodation to his own house.

Tommy (74) has lived in residential homes since he was 30 – first in a dormitory with three other men, then having his own room in a home for 42 disabled people.

Fear of being isolated

He lived in the home for 24 years and he says "life was good". Tommy was upset when he heard the home was to close as he could not imagine an alternative.  He has vivid recollection of the "dread" he felt and his fear of losing friends and being isolated and lonely.  After more than 30 years in residential care, it did not occur to him that he might have his own home.

Eight years ago he got a tenancy in a new purpose built wheelchair user’s house in a small integrated housing development.  The home is well designed and situated where he has safe and level access to his neighbours, to the shops and library.

Opened up a whole new world

Tommy uses a ‘light writer’ type talk machine to communicate and says clearly that having his own home has opened up a new world for him.  He has his own car and he travels the length and breadth of the country. He has watched the three young children of his immediate neighbour grow up, and is aware that as he looks out for them so they look out for him, noticing when he has not been out and calling to ask if he is well. 

Tommy points out one design feature that could be improved – a back door that opens into his living room limits the furniture layout – but otherwise feels the house is ideal for his needs. It is obviously just as important to him that it meets the needs of his personal team of carers. He has enough space to move around in his wheelchair and the bathroom is large enough for his carer to support him with personal tasks.