Kay talks about the challenges she faced going home after a spinal cord injury

Kay sustained her spinal cord injury from a Cavernoma bleed located at T2 of her spinal cord in September 2017.

Whilst in the Duke of Cornwall Spinal Unit in Salisbury she was visited by the lovely Graham Anderson, one of our Peer Support Officers. Graham visited Kay over the course of a few months, offering her advice and support and telling her about the services offered by SIA across the country.  He was also there to support and listen to Kay when she was feeling down and to provide useful tips and information to help her prepare for life post-discharge.

When she first returned home Kay found the support of her boyfriend invaluable.  The spinal unit had taught him how to care for her which made the transition from hospital to home easier and was particularly important as the flat they moved into was not adapted for Kay’s needs.

Kay had felt rushed to leave hospital, to provide bed space for other patients.  Her old home was not suitable so there was also pressure on the council to find her a new home.  At one point she was faced with the prospect of a place in a nursing home but at the last moment a flat become available.  Even though it wasn’t adapted she took it, opting for a life at home, rather than in a care home.

However, it wasn’t all plain sailing as it took months to get any adaptations made. Kay couldn’t use the kitchen, she had to sleep in the living room, there was a steep hill to get to the front door, and she couldn’t even use the shower for six months. Life during this time was strained and extremely challenging, but despite this Kay and her boyfriend carried on, pushing for the adaptations to be finished so they could finally continue their lives.

Once the adaptations were complete they were life changing. Kay had a wet room installed, a new front door with a ramp, ceiling track hoist in the bedroom and the bedroom window was converted into a back door leading onto a ramp so Kay can finally get into the garden. She also had rise and fall cupboards, lowered work surfaces and a rise and fall hob installed so she can enjoy cooking once again in her home.

However, all of these adaptations were difficult to arrange and because of this she spent months in a flat which wasn’t suitable for her needs with a resulting impact on her ability to begin rebuilding her live after her injury. Despite pressure on local councils, it took months for them to find her a home and adapt it to her needs due to low funding and pressure from all areas involved.

Kay says “Home is a safe place. A place you shouldn’t take for granted and I am so lucky that I have had people help me get my flat and to make it as liveable as they possibly can. Yes it was hard to get to this point, but that makes me appreciate it so much more as there are unfortunately people still waiting for theirs and pressure for them to leave hospital with absolutely nowhere to go, through no fault of their own.”

When we asked Kay about how the system could be improved she said: “We need to work with letting agents and landlords and help them with funding to adapt their homes. We need to educate them that by adapting their rentals they will have plenty of residents that will rent these properties as there is a very high demand, across the country.”