“My home was like a prison”
“Most people think of their home as being a place of comfort and security. But mine was like a prison. I was trapped upstairs, bedridden, relying on my husband to look after my most basic needs,” recalls Jacqui Minshull. The 32-year-old, who suffers from fibromyalgia – a condition which causes severe pain in the body, explains what life was like before moving to a specially-adapted home.
“I was diagnosed in 2012 and it was a shock for all of us,” says Jacqui, who lives with her husband Dean (34) and their four children Shannon
(13), Reece (12), Finley (7) and Ryelan (6). “We were living in a three-bedroom private rented house which was fine at first, although we were a little overcrowded. As my condition got worse, I was finding it difficult to get up and down the stairs. I needed my husband’s help most of the time.
“Eventually, I just stopped going downstairs altogether because getting back upstairs to the bedroom and bathroom was too much of an ordeal. Physically, I was in pain. Emotionally, I was depressed and felt like a burden to my husband.”
“I thought I was going to be stuck in my bedroom forever.”
A magnificent title
The couple asked their landlord if they could make some changes to the house like putting in some handrails and a walk-in shower. But the landlord refused. “Dean had to give up work to look after me so we didn’t have the money to move,” says Jacqui. “I thought I was going to be stuck in my bedroom forever.
“We approached the council and they suggested we contact bpha to see if they could help. bpha said they would do everything they could to find us a new home. But because we needed a property to suit my needs, I thought we’d be waiting for a long time.”
Just over a year later, in December 2017, the family got the news they’d been hoping for. A fully adapted house had come up in Kempston. “It had a stairlift, a wet room and a downstairs toilet,” says Jacqui. “Even better – it had four bedrooms which meant only two of the kids had to share. It was the best Christmas present we’d ever had.
“We had to go through the usual bidding process but bpha’s Home Agent, Charley White was brilliant and helped us to fill in the forms. Then in early January, Charley rang to say we could move in. And when that day came, I was in floods of tears. I couldn’t believe how lucky we were to have a house like this.”
Freedom and space
Six months on and what’s life like for Jacqui now? “Life is so much better and I’m smiling again. I’ve got some of my independence back, thanks to the wet room and downstairs toilet. I don’t have to rely on Dean as much which means he can do more with the kids. And, because the house is bigger, we all have our own space instead of being on top of one another like we were before. The stairlift is a godsend – I can go downstairs on my own and feel part of the family again.
“I’ve got some of my independence back, thanks to the wet room and downstairs toilet.”
“I can’t thank bpha enough – they’ve been so helpful and have made sure everything in the house is perfect. Some extra work has been done such as plastering and adding new skirting boards. And we’re due to have new windows and a back door fitted soon.
“I can’t thank bpha enough – they’ve been so helpful and have made sure everything in the house is perfect.”
“The house has made a massive difference to our lives. The whole family is so much happier. It just goes to show that your home is everything. And often, we forget that.”