Olive’s accessible house

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Urmston, Manchester

Olive is a happy and lively four-year-old with Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy. She is profoundly deaf but has cochlear implants, which help her to hear speech and sounds. Olive moves around on her knees for short periods but mainly uses her wheelchair. Despite having limited movement in her arms and hands, she is very good at making the most of her skills! Olive LOVES to be a part of everything - especially in the kitchen, where she always wants to help out baking and cooking. Olive's big sister, Connie, loves playing with and helping Olive, but Connie also needs her own time and space. With another baby on the way, the family will have their hands full and need an adapted living space to meet Olive's growing needs.

As well as being parents to our beautiful children, we are NHS paediatric therapists and work with children with disabilities. We are fully aware of the difficulties that may lie ahead for our daughter as she grows. We are keen to make early changes to ensure a suitable home to carry out the daily activities we once took for granted.

We have a three-bedroom house which is not suitable for a wheelchair user. Sadly, most of the house is inaccessible to Olive, even getting through doorways proves difficult as they are narrow with limited space to turn, whether on her knees or in her chair. The galley kitchen cannot accommodate Olive's chair, leaving her locked out of the hub of the home. She cannot yet use a toilet and needs help getting changed - this mostly takes place on the floor, or we sometimes carry her upstairs, where the bed serves as a changing table. We have to carry her upstairs to bed and have to lift her in and out of the bath - you can imagine how hard it is with a growing four-year-old!

Therefore, we plan to extend and adapt our home to suit her needs - now and in the future. We decided early on that our house is Olive's home, too, and we want to make sure she can access every part of it, just like her siblings.

To do this, we are adding a side extension with an additional bedroom, using one of the current bedrooms as a specialist adapted wetroom for Olive and moving her into the big bedroom. We will be repositioning the stairs to create a landing area so she can move around to the other rooms upstairs.

We are installing a through floor lift (TFL) that will go directly from the hall to her bedroom, so no more carrying her up and down the stairs- which is currently not safe for her or us.

We are opening up the entire downstairs to make it completely wheelchair accessible. We'll add pocket doors - that slide into the wall cavity - which Olive can open and control herself. We'll have a big open family space with an accessible kitchen - so she can finally help us make and bake!

We have lots of specialist equipment for Olive, which takes up living space in the house, so any additional rooms created will serve as storage.

We plan to have a graded front path to allow ramped access to the front of the house and create level access from the family space in the back of the house out into the garden - Olive loves nothing more than playing outside in the garden and making mud cakes!

All of this comes at a considerable cost, and as the space will be so open, the acoustics mean she will find it much harder when wearing implants to listen and hear. So, we are hoping to use some specialist acoustically adapted materials on the walls to help dampen the sound so that she can still take part socially and physically.

We plan to do this work so that the house is suitable for Olive to live in now and it will grow with her and be suitable for the future. There's so much more we want to do too. At some point, we hope to fit environmental controls so that she can control lighting, heating and so forth, but for now, just having her be a part of the family in all that we do would be life-changing for all of us.

In Olive's own words 'I want to do what you're doing!' - and we want to be able to make that happen.

We are due to start building work in August 2022, but costs have increased dramatically in the last year and continue to rise, leaving us with a deficit of £50,000.

FUNDS RAISED SO FAR:

  • £24,000 -Disabilities Funding Grant from Trafford council to go towards the lift, wetroom, and hoists costs- currently waiting for approval.
  • Sullivan's Heroes have kindly pledged £1500
  • £170,000 via remortgaging and savings

Olive is a happy and lively four-year-old, with a smile for everyone. She was born prematurely due to difficulties whilst in the womb and as a result was starved of oxygen at birth. She then acquired several infections shortly after birth and needed lots of help to pull through.

As a result of these early difficulties, she has Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy and is profoundly deaf. She has cochlear implants, which help her to hear speech and sounds. Olive moves around on her knees for short periods but mainly uses her wheelchair. Despite having limited movement in her arms and hands, she is very good at making the most of her skills! She loves to be a part of everything and join in what we are doing.

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