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63, London

Frank has various medical problems that make mobility difficult. He has a lot of experience in getting equipment to help him live independently.

"I’ve had two strokes and I have type 2 diabetes and, more recently, a triple heart bypass. I couldn’t be discharged from hospital until the hospital discharge team had made adaptations or had checked out the house.

The repairs and adaptations were done by the council in the main. One is a stair lift, which is designed to swivel at the top landing so that my feet can go down on a firm surface. The cost of that was £6,500, paid for by the council. They said, ‘We’ll put in a downstairs loo,’ and they did lots of handrail supports all over the house. Decking was put in to completely flatten out a slope outside so that we could put bins out safely and access the garage.

There’s a bath chair that rises and lowers by remote control so I can get in and out of the bath. There’s a bed head lift, which is typical of a hospital bed that lifts the pillows so that I can get in and out of the bed more easily and be more comfortable. There’s also a bed rail, which is a most used, most valuable device and probably the cheapest. It helps me get out of bed with minimal assistance. It’s quite a catalogue, isn’t it?

Understanding the system

But finding your way through the labyrinth of different departments at the local council takes real skill. They tend to be autonomous, they tend not to talk to each other, they don’t communicate well. I'm dealt with by the adult section of the social care department, but when I need something doing like a handrail putting up or a stair lift putting in, that has to come from the repairs and adaptations department.

When I needed a chair from which I could be lifted to avoid my blood pressure going up and being made breathless because of my heart condition, that was another department. 

Form filling

Each department has their own application forms, some of which are 45 pages long, most of which are means related. I hold all my data on a computer ready to be lifted from the last application and dropped into the new application, which is very valuable.

'I hold all my data on a computer ready to be lifted from the last application and dropped into the new application.'

You have to know how to fill in the forms and even when you’ve done so and they say, 'Sorry, but you’re not having it', you’ve got to know how to appeal and to whom to appeal. I’ve got pretty good at that. I had to appeal three times for my chair.

I also asked the council for a scooter and they said, ‘No we can’t.’ Then I had to write about 20 letters to 20 different charities, most of which replied in the negative, but two were positive and provided £2,000 towards the scooter, plus £500 from me. I first started applying in March and the scooter was delivered in August, so like most things to do with charities and social workers, it can take a few weeks."

More information

Page last reviewed: April 2017
Next review due: October 2019