Rehability Independent Living Centre image

Opened by an occupational therapist with over 40 years’ experience of working with disabled people, a new Independent Living Centre in East Anglia will showcase modern home adaptations for elderly and disabled people.

The Rehability show-home in Halesworth, Suffolk, illustrates the wealth of equipment that is now available to clients to make access easier around the home and to facilitate vital everyday tasks such as using the kitchen, getting in and out of bed, bathing and toileting.

A professional assessment by a qualified occupational therapist at the centre will also ensure that the equipment a client considers buying or installing is suited to their individual needs.

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Rehability Independent Living Centre image

“We want to show the possibilities that enable people to continue living in their own home as they get older or after accident or disability,” said Rehability’s director Veronica Downing.

Veronica is an occupational therapist with over 40 years’ experience in working with disabled people. She also runs an occupational therapy practice – Veronica Downing Associates – which provides occupational therapy assessments on disability and rehabilitation needs following personal injury and clinical negligence.

Veronica says she is keen to demonstrate that disability or advancing years need not resort to moving out of the family home.

“Faced with the choice, most people with limited mobility or care needs would much prefer to stay in the home they know,” she added. “With the range of smart equipment now available, home adaptation is often simple, and it’s almost always a far less costly option.”

One of the key aspects of the new centre is that it is not embedded in the clinical surroundings of a shop or surgery, but in the setting of a historic timber-framed barn, converted to modern specifications.

Rehability Independent Living Centre image

Severely damaged by a fire in 2017, the Grade II listed barn has undergone a full rebuild and is now fitted out with a working kitchen designed for wheelchair access and a cottage-style bedroom with a height-adjustable profiling bed.

The adjoining bathroom showcases the latest assisted bathing system with integrated seat transfer and leg-lift facility, along with an accessible shower and washer-dryer toilet. In addition, a through-floor home lift takes visitors up into a first floor living room.

The new centre was also opened by the Rt Hon Thérèse Coffey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. It is a place at where potential clients can see and try out small aids or larger pieces of equipment in the context of a working kitchen, bathroom, bedroom or living area.

Rehability Independent Living Centre image

Veronica concluded: “We believe that it is a real asset for north east Suffolk, and that it will show how simple it is, with a bit of thought and ingenuity, to transform the lives of those who are struggling at home.”

Rehability’s new Independent Living Centre is at Bridge Farm, Chediston, two miles west of Halesworth.

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