The insurance company of the person responsible for your spinal injury will be asked to provide the funds to bring in a case manager.
They can assess your immediate needs and set out what can be done urgently to deal with issues such as access to the property, and whether any simple adaptations can be done to make sure you can access basics such as a bed, toilet and kettle.
Once a case manager has been brought in to assess your needs, an accommodation expert may then be consulted. They can provide an expert view of the reasonable needs and costs of any adaptations that are needed.
They can also see if you can buy or rent alternative accommodation, as it may no longer be possible for you to stay in your current home.
These costs would be needed upfront from the insurer before the final assessment of how much compensation you should be awarded. That’s because your needs are so urgent that we can’t wait until expert evidence to support your claim has been obtained.
Why Home Adaptations are Needed
A spinal injury is catastrophic and the effects are seismic, both for the person who is left in a wheelchair and their family and friends.
So it’s vitally important for your quality of life that after being discharged from hospital and a rehab unit, you can learn how to live independently at home, get around, and carry out basic tasks such as going to the bathroom for yourself.
But much of the “real world” isn’t designed for wheelchairs, especially properties in housing estates, flats or old stone cottages.
And only rarely will be you returning home to ground floor accommodation that’s suitable for your needs.
Toilets and bedrooms, for example, are usually on the first floor in most houses, and most flats and apartments are accessed by steep stairs. Lifts, meanwhile, are designed for people standing up not sitting down, and you may have to manage steep steps and stairs to the property before you even get in the building.
The NHS and the rehab team at hospital will have done what they can probably by sending an occupational therapist out to assess these issues and will provide some guidance, but they’re limited in how much practical help they can offer.
That’s why it’s important for you to get the support from a case manager and accommodation expert.
What Adaptations May Be Needed?
Even if a ground floor home can be located, fundamental adaptations may still be needed, beyond installing an accessible bathroom.
For example, the doors may need to be altered so they’re wide enough for wheelchairs, and the kitchen units and work surfaces must be suitably lowered so you can reach them safely.
The same applies to the outside of the property, as changes may need to be made so you can only access it with your wheelchair, and park a large enough vehicle that’s adapted for a wheelchair.