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A disabled man has sat on his sofa for the first time ever, due to a new scheme which enabled him to borrow a mini-lift so he could get from his wheelchair to his sofa.
The initiative being run by Sheffield City Council means disabled people can now borrow specialist equipment such as lifts for free, giving them more independence and mobility.
The scheme which was piloted last year has now become a permanent service. It is aimed at people with disabilities living at home who need two care workers, or increased care, to help with tasks most people take for granted, such as going to the toilet and getting into bed.
David Statham, a 57-year-old from South Sheffield, who has had a neuro-muscle wasting condition for the last ten years, has found the initiative which has enabled him to borrow a mini-lift gave him more independence and some of his dignity back.
With the “assistance of the service, I can access places in my own home that have long been out of bounds. We’ve had this sofa for about four years and it’s only very recently that I’ve sat on it for the first time, certainly not before I had the mini-lift,” he said. He added: “You can only know what it’s like to be disabled and permanently in the wheelchair if you’re permanently disabled and in a wheelchair.
“If you start having your dignity taken away bit by bit, anything which can restore it to whatever degree, especially to a large degree like this lift does, is only a good thing.”
His illness means he was unable to get from his wheelchair onto the toilet. But this lift has made all the difference. “I was really hung up on that but now it’s become ok. It’s also given us a bit of confidence, in that if we should go away for a few days to a hotel I can get onto the bed a bit easier,” he said.
“It’s quite liberating, being able to sit in your own house more comfortably and not be at the mercy of your wheelchair all the time. We’re very thankful for this service.
“Anything that helps to restore a person’s dignity is a great thing.”
As well as loaning specialist equipment free of charge, the service also gives advice about the latest moving and handling techniques.
When Sheffield City Council piloted the scheme last year, it was run by two occupational therapists. At that point, the therapists were able to help a third of the 31 people they saw. Now the council has expanded the service with an extra two occupational therapists and aims to help at least 120 people this year.
Councillor Cate McDonald, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care at Sheffield City Council, said: “It’s great to hear from people like David who are now able to do more. Another man we’ve helped used to need two carers to put him to bed. He’s now able to do this himself and has talked about the freedom of being able to choose when he goes to bed – something most of us take for granted.
“I’m very pleased to have introduced the service on a permanent basis after the successful trial. Helping people live more independently, where they can, and with a better quality of life is something we want to do much more of. It’s undoubtedly better for the people we’re able to help and reduces pressures on carers, which also benefits services.”
Social workers and care workers can now refer people to Sheffield City Council’s equipment and adaptation service. These are people who are typically unable to walk across a room any more, unable to get themselves to the toilet, often in a wheelchair or even confined to bed.