On Monday work began on converting my bathroom into a fully accessible wet room with a height-adjustable sink, roll-in shower and fancy wash and dry toilet. The work’s involved knocking through into the cupboard next to the bathroom, and now that’s been done I can get a good sense of how brilliantly big the new room will be.
The builders are taking lots of care with my home and are being very considerate, leaving me with a working toilet and bath each night when they stop work.
After they left this evening, I went to use the toilet and without thinking too much about it pulled my wheelchair up next to the loo and slid across. I then squealed with delight realising I’d just done a side-transfer onto my toilet for the very first time! Previously there wasn’t space to put my chair next to the loo and I’d had to rely on help to transfer.
Even though the work isn’t complete, I’m already feeling the benefit of it, and it’s made me realise how much I was struggling with how it was before.
As a wheelchair user, I’m used to environments not being as accessible as they should be and to finding ways to make them work. But this can mean adapting to barriers rather than removing them. Being able to get onto the toilet safely shouldn’t really be blog-worthy, but for me it’s a significant move towards having a home that works for me in every way.
There’s a huge shortage of accessible homes in the UK with 90% of wheelchair users struggling to find a suitable place to live. While funds like the Disabled Facilities Grant, which is supporting my bathroom work, have a role to play, we also need architects and developers to do better when it comes to creating genuinely accessible homes.
Tonight’s transfer onto the toilet was the beginning of a new era at the castle – one in which going to the bathroom is no longer an extreme sport.