Long uncomfortable nights sleeping on a chair in the living room were starting to become the norm for one 84-year-old woman.
Mobility problems prevented Janette Ridgway of Orphir in Orkney from reaching her upstairs bedroom at nights.
This situation was far from ideal – especially as she wants to remain living in the former school house for as long as possible.
She said: “It would break my heart to leave.”
Now she doesn’t have to worry. Thanks to a grant from Orkney Health and Care, Mrs Ridgway has had a “life-changing” stairlift fitted.
Mrs Ridgway said: “It has made such a difference to my life. I can get upstairs to my bed now without the pain and effort required previously – which sometimes left me sleeping on the chair downstairs.
“My mobility issues began with hip problems and my right one was replaced. My left one is not good now and causes a lot of pain at times. I have also been diagnosed with a heart condition which leaves me quite out of puff.
“I could manage the first 10 steps, but the last three steps would take every ounce of energy, strength and will power and sometimes I just could not manage it. By the time I got to my bed I was very sore, and it would take me ages to get to sleep.
“Now I zip up in my stairlift and walk through to bed – it really is life-changing.”
She hopes that with less aggravation on her hip, the condition may improve.
“I knit and have started felting to pass the time as I’m not able to get out and about driving at the moment.
“But I am hopeful that if my hip improves and my heart condition is under control that I will be able to get out and about myself again.
“I’m not ready to give up driving yet!”
Completed within four weeks
The work was completed around four weeks after it was requested, despite the festive holiday period.
Mrs Ridgway is one of many who will benefit from additional grant money agreed by Orkney councillors for adaptation and home improvements for those most in need.
She added: “I heard of the additional grant money and am so pleased – it really will make such a difference to people like myself who rely on these adaptations to allow us to stay in our own homes.
“Everyone involved has been so helpful – nothing was too much trouble.”
Orkney Health and Care has been awarded a £300,000 share of the council’s £8.25 million one-off funding for projects considered to provide excellent recovery from the pandemic.
This is in addition to the £200,000 allocation they receive annually for disabled grant improvements. They received a further £20,000 from the winter planning fund from Scottish Government to top up the £48,600 Small Repairs (Disabled) Fund.
Orkney Health and Care Chief Officer, Stephen Brown, said: “With a backlog due to Covid, in addition to a growing need, the current year allocation of funding has been substantially committed and without this additional allocation there would have been a rationing of work.
“We are delighted to receive this additional cash to help assist many more people remain within their own homes, which is what they tell us they want.”
Orkney Care and Repair is the agent which helps people through the process. It is an organisation which has been “improving homes” and “improving lives” in Orkney for over 30 years.
Remain as independent as possible
Vice chairwoman of the Orkney Integration Joint Board, councillor Rachael King, said: “We all hope that we can remain as independent as possible for as long as possible, to stay in our own homes surrounded by our family and friends.
“As a council we recognise the importance of this alongside the longer term benefits for both our physical and mental health that continuing to play an active part in our communities affords.”
Orkney Care and Repair offers personal, financial and technical support to people facing the difficult task of repairing, improving or adapting a home which is no longer suitable to their needs.
Initially targeting elderly, disabled and low-income groups throughout Orkney, they now also offer the service to a much wider client base. This means that now anyone living in privately owned or rented properties can access a wide range of assistance.
The Care and Repair Team is managed by Fraser Devine. He said: “The provision of advice and information is a central part of Orkney Care and Repair’s role, as well as providing practical assistance with grant applications and co-ordinating repairs.”