I've been supposed to have a stairlift for quite some time now. But what with the insecurity of living in a rented house, and sharing that house with a non-disabled person who likes to run up and down the stairs unimpeded, we never went ahead with it. I carried on going up stairs on all fours, coming down stairs on my bum, and sitting halfway up/down the stairs having a little rest when necessary. It was okay. I'm under 35 and not exactly frail, I've got solid young bones and plenty of padding on them. When I fall down the stairs, so far nothing worse has happened than some cuts, bruises, grazes and/or carpet burn, maybe a bit of damaged clothing, and whatever I was carrying taking a brief flying lesson.
As you can imagine, being pregnant - having a baby on the inside for now and knowing that once the baby is on the outside I still need to get both of us up and down the stairs safely - changes the goalposts somewhat. All of a sudden I'm a lot less flippant about falls. On top of which, as my bump gets bigger, it becomes physically more awkward (and eventually will be full-on impossible) for me to go up on hands and knees or rest halfway if I need to. Steve and I agreed that pregnancy would make us concede to the stairlift.
(At this point well-meaning people tend to sagely advise us that we should move house to a bungalow. Leaving aside the implied insult that we are too stupid to have thought of such a thing, the trouble with bungalows becomes apparent when you try to actually *get* one. Social housing bungalows are too small, privately rented bungalows are too expensive, purchasing a bungalow is out of our reach, and all types of bungalow are very rare. We do search occasionally, but in every category those few that come up and look like they might meet our needs tend to, on further investigation, be on special zones or estates that exclude us with rules stating they are only available to over-55s or that children are not permitted.)
The delays and difficulties with Social Services meant that I was 21 weeks pregnant before the Housing OT Gatekeeper phoned me - and promptly advised that a stairlift would take at least six months to sort out, which isn't a useful answer to someone who needs to be baby-ready in four months. Happily I was able to persuade her to refer it upwards, with the result that she phoned me the next morning and I got an appointment to see the OT at 23 weeks.
The OT was lovely, as OTs tend to be. Along with various other things, including a referral to a specialist OT service for disabled parents elsewhere in the country, she agreed that a stairlift was required ASAP, and since it was therefore a prescribed item rather than a personal choice, gave us a financial assessment form.
Financial assessments are conducted differently by different departments. They all have different criteria. For example, at present, I'm not eligible for welfare because as a household we have earned income - but I don't have to pay for my basic care package because that is calculated on savings, investments, assets, property, trust funds, etc, with our earned income from our current work being disregarded. For a Disabled Facilities Grant, which is what would normally pay for a stairlift... everyone had assumed that we'd be eligible, but it turns out we're not eligible due to Steve's earnings.
Which means we (meaning he) will have to fund the stairlift privately.
Which will be about £5,000.
There's no choice though. We don't have a downstairs loo and there's nowhere we could put a commode downstairs, therefore if we want me to be able to use the loo with hygiene and privacy, which in the UK is considered a pretty fundamental necessity for anyone, let alone a pregnant woman or new mother, we need a stairlift.
At 26 weeks the OT came back with a couple of engineers in tow to measure things and pull faces, and the proper final itemised quote should be with us by 28 weeks.
They tell me there's then a 6-8 week wait after I get the quote, confirm the order and stump up the deposit before work can start. The particular parts for my particular measurements and prescription need to be shipped in and then of course the relevant engineers must be booked. That will bring us to 36 weeks or as near full-term as makes no difference, or to put it another way, I might end up using a bucket in the lounge after all, or trying to find the money to allow me to spend what should be the "nesting" period in an accessible hotel room. I guess the best case scenario is that if I go into early labour, they might not be able to release me and baby from hospital until the house is habitable.
That the delays and heel-dragging of social services in the first half of my pregnancy has resulted in my basic predictable needs for the final stages being cut this fine makes me even more upset than the money aspect.
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