Dealing with Disability in the Home: Second edition of series

By: Daniella Jade Lowe

Housing and assisted living can be quite scarce for people with disabilities. Most times people with disabilities live with family where they rely on parents for support.

While living with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus, I’ve had the privilege of living in two separate countries, which means I’ve had two separate homes. I was born in England, raised in Bermuda. I have dual nationality, which has resulted in dual perspectives on disability.

I lived with my parents in Bermuda during my early school years, then I lived independently in England. I completed Primary, Middle and High School in Bermuda then completed college and university in England.

Living in both countries has been an eye opener for me especially from the perspective of being a wheelchair user.

Housing in England vs Housing in Bermuda

Housing in England is completely different to Housing in Bermuda, especially for people with disabilities.

During my college and university years, I lived in student accommodations that were modified for wheelchair users. Cultural differences impacted this. Once I completed university, I transferred to Assisted Independent Living. I live at a housing scheme called Five Oaks Housing Scheme under Sanctuary Housing Association in Ilkley. Sanctuary Housing Association is a housing corporation dedicated to the disabled community in the UK.

I have a great landlord who meets with the residents and I on a quarterly basis. She also communicates effectively, in-person, by phone and email. My bathroom is equipped with handrails to make transferring easy. I also use a profiling bed in addition to my height adjustable electric wheelchair. All counters and tables are low enough for me.

However there are other people in my flat who require the use of assistive technology.

Residents who are either unemployed or actively job seeking are eligible for Housing Benefit pays rent in the UK.

One recurring issue that I’ve experienced in relation to housing is having access to showering facilities instead of bathing facilities. I personally prefer baths to showers.

According to my research, Bermuda offers Summerhaven Trust. Summerhaven Trust is an assisted living residential complex that provides the opportunity for people with physical disabilities to live in the community.

The Bermuda Housing Corporation provides loans for the elderly and the disabled in Bermuda.

For the last house that I lived in, before moving to England, my family sought to make the house wheelchair accessible with an escape route for me in case of a fire or flood, by the patio area, but the Department of Planning wouldn’t let us do so because it was too risky. Bermuda has legislation for this.

During my high school years, my father teamed up with a family friend to implement a lift at my house at one point because there were stairs to access and exit the house. Bermuda has legislation for this.

Additionally, the Disabled Living Allowance is also available while living out here. I’ve also received additional support from Carers like Dignicare and Visioncare.,

Wheelchair Accessibility: Functioning in Dysfunction

This is one of the main reasons why I moved to England from Bermuda as a high school graduate.

Wheelchair Accessibility and mobility issues are just some of the problems that I face as a wheelchair user. Access alleviates the amount of limitations and restrictions on wheelchair users. Failing to ensure wheelchair accessibility is neglecting to provide reasonable adjustments. It is like functioning in dysfunction.

However, despite all of this, people with disabilities, like me, can lead independent lives even though we experience a restricted level of independence. Yes we do have preferences, goals and ambitions. We also have rights too.

Throughout this whole ‘Dealing with Disability’ series, I’ve learned that both countries have endeavoured to make mandatory reasonable adjustments for people with disabilities through legislation and finances. Reasonable adjustments, finances and legislation enable us to live independently. This is the way we deal with life.

About Daniella-Jade Lowe

Hello, My name is Daniella Jade Lowe. I am a PURSUN researcher and I am working on marketing myself as an Accessibility Consultant. Journalism and Politics are my passion. I have a BA degree in History and Politics. What type of disability do you have? At birth, I was diagnosed with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus which are neurological conditions. As a result, I use a wheelchair for mobility. What is disability to you? The only disability is a bad attitude. I have a disability. It doesn’t completely define me; it just enhances me in a way which differentiates and strengthens me. My disability should be viewed as an ability: to see the world in a different way. I don’t really like the term because sometimes it indirectly implies someone is dysfunctional or helpless. The most important thing is to never make assumptions. Someone with a disability can be very, physically, fit and strong, highly intelligent and articulate. What has been your experience from the time you remember till now? - positive and negative experiences. My life as a wheelchair user has been generally okay. Wheelchair Accessibility is frustrating. I was teased a little in school. Other than that, life is great. How do you cope with: -daily activities - your disability, do you have times when you are down - people's reactions towards you. I have carers, a Social worker, District Nurses, a GP, and extended family in this country. I am also in contact with a local disability charity in Yorkshire. I also have a friendly landlord. How do you keep yourself motivated? I must stay organised and practice good time management. I also prioritise my plans. What is your word or advice - to those with disabilities? - to the society Don’t let people put you in a box. You have a voice, use it. 10. Tell us about your platforms if you have any- Blog: The View from Where I Sit Facebook: Daniella Jade Lowe Instagram: @daniellajadelowe/@theviewfromwheresitblog Thank you!