As Charlie Gets Bigger, Our Home Seems to Get Less Accessible

Fiona Russo by Fiona Russo Additional Needs

Fiona Russo

Fiona Russo

I'm a busy mother of four, wife of one, and doctoral candidate to my ever-patient university colleagues. My passions in life are many, but there ar...

Their kitchens alone are the stuff of legend – their last one had 49 drawers and cupboards in it! Bliss for anyone who loves to cook – which, ironically, they don’t.

They do love to entertain, though, and the delicious roast dinners we often have with all fourteen of us around the table… well, the big kitchen is definitely handy.

Next year, they’ll start building a new house– the last one, they say - this is the place they plan to retire in.

Over lunch with Mum last week, she casually mentioned that Dad has redesigned the ground floor of their house with Charlie’s longer-term needs in mind.

I was stunned: wider doorways, no step to the front porch, access to the pool etc.

These are things I hadn’t even considered, and when I said to Mum how lovely it was that Dad had thought to do it, she just shrugged and said, “It’s Charlie, of course we would, it’s not too hard to do when you’re starting from scratch.  It’s no big deal.”

Well, it’s a big deal to us.

Disability access: it’s something I’ve heard people talking about, of course.

I’ve sympathised with spokespeople on television or the radio when they’ve been talking about the limited access to sporting events or holiday destinations, schools or theme parks.

It’s always been a bit of background noise, though, because it’s never really struck a personal chord with me.

All that is changing now.

As Charlie gets older, the likelihood that she will become independently mobile decreases.

We are facing the very real possibility of a wheelchair-bound little girl.

At three and a half, Charlie is still pretty ‘movable’ – that is, we can lift her and carry her about.

As she gets bigger, this will obviously become an issue and we’re not prepared at all.  Our house is on a steep hill with an exceptionally steep driveway.

Doorways aren’t wide and the hall is quite slim as well.  We don’t have rails in the bathrooms or hoists in the bedroom.

We have a few steps – small ones as we’re in a single-storey, but enough to cause problems for wheelchairs.

So much to think about!  Just when I think we’re on top of it all (or as much as you can be in these situations), something else pops up and bites us.

We’ll not have Charlie unable to get around in her own home, so it’ll have to go ‘on the list’.

I still don’t know what we’re going to do long-term – except that we’ll need to find a more suitable place to live before long - but in the meantime it’s nice to know that Charlie will not only be welcome, but able at Mum and Dad’s place.


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