This is Hilary’s story, an example of how the life of someone with a disability has been transformed through access to housing and support that meets her personal needs.
Hilary moved in to her new home in August 2016 and she is still excited about it. “It’s just brilliant!” she said of her apartment in the purpose built facility in Lisburn.
After a stroke Hilary had been unable to live independently, and she had been in Ballymacoss Residential Home for more than 20 years.
Now supported to live in a self-contained one bedroom apartment, she talks passionately about being able to decide on her own colour schemes, picking her own pictures and cushions for her living room, and getting matching utensils for her kitchen. All the things that many of us take for granted, but Hilary had never been in a position to do before.
The apartment which Hilary now calls home has been designed to meet her every need. It incorporates technology to ensure that her independence isn’t compromised and there are easily accessible buzzers and buttons to open and close doors and blinds. With modern technology Hilary can control almost everything in her new home, from heating to entertainment, with an iPad.
“I go to a day centre three days a week and there are other activities here, like glass painting, that I join in, but I love being able to go back to the peace and quiet of my wee home and watch my TV with a wee tipple on a Saturday night. I thought I’d never have a place like this to call my own – it’s just great.”
Hilary is one of 13 residents currently living in self-contained apartments at a purpose built facility which was developed by the Cedar Foundation, in partnership with the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust and Triangle Housing Association.
Stephen Mathews, Cedar Foundation CEO, said: “People with disabilities have an equal right to housing, but access to suitable housing is often limited and many are still inappropriately accommodated in residential or nursing care.
The Cedar Foundation has been working with housing partners and the Health and Social Care trusts to develop models of supported housing that aim to ensure equitable access for disabled people to have a home of their own in their local community.”
“At the heart of these models are advances in assistive technology that support the design of housing and limit the very disabling effects of physical disability, enabling individuals to live as independently as possible.
“For most people, technology makes things easier. For people with disabilities, new technologies, appropriately implemented, make independent living achievable - ensuring that a rightsbased approach to housing is possible.
Creative environmental design with assistive technologies when combined with care and support packages support independence and social inclusion that changes lives.”