‘I have lost my independence as apartment is not suitable’

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A DISABLED Islander says she has lost her independence after being moved into an apartment which is ‘unsuitable’ for her needs.

Jenni Halsey (77) was a resident in Willows Court in Green Street for nearly three decades, until a redevelopment of the site – which was purpose-built for Islanders with disabilities and acquired by affordable-housing provider Andium Homes in 2017 – meant she was relocated to Clos Couriard earlier this year.

Ms Halsey, who needs a wheelchair, said that her new apartment was ‘unsuitable’ and was causing several problems. Among the issues, she said, was the kitchen, which she said was too high for her to access – resulting in her burning herself on the oven – and the carpet, which she said had the wrong underlay and was making it hard to move around.

‘Lots of us have been moved out without thought about how we would manage. You can’t blame anyone because it’s a

lovely apartment but it’s not for me. I had independence at Willows Court and I don’t have that here,’ she said.

Other problems, she added, involved a raised patio doorway unsuitable for her wheelchair and difficulty navigating the bathroom as it was too small.

Having managed Maison des Landes – a hotel designed specifically for people with disabilities – for 17 years, Ms Halsey said: ‘When I looked around [the new apartment] I thought, they haven’t got a clue.’

An Andium Homes spokesperson confirmed the company was working to identify ‘a more suitable property’.

‘They said they are still looking but the trouble is there is nowhere suitable. I don’t know where they are going to put me,’ Ms Halsey said.

‘Why Willows Court was knocked down I do not know. There was nothing wrong with it.

‘Of course there were going to be problems [with the move]. If they got in a wheelchair for a day, then they would understand.’

The Andium spokesperson said: ‘A dedicated member of our team is working closely with the client, her family and her occupational therapist to identify a more suitable property. This has its challenges due to her specific needs but we are confident that a solution will be available soon.’

They added: ‘We operate a choice-based lettings service and aim to give clients as much say as possible in their new home and, to an extent, therefore rely on the client to determine that the new home meets their particular needs. We do recognise though that sometimes there can be unforeseen issues that crop up after a move and will work with tenants when that happens.

‘For instance, we operate a fully funded medical adaptation service for existing and new tenants, which allows us to make changes to a home to assist tenants in living independently. Where this won’t resolve the issue, we will do all we can to facilitate a move to a more suitable property, if one can be identified.’

The spokesperson also confirmed that Willows Court had been purpose-built for people with disabilities, but that this had been done ‘some 30 years ago’.

‘The needs of those with disabilities has changed significantly as has the technology available to assist with independent living.

‘Occupational therapists have described the properties at the Willows as being more suitable for the “walking wounded” nowadays,’ they said.

‘The units themselves were lift-served and all open plan, with level-access showers and there were options for hoists to be fitted. Kitchens were extremely small and set off the living room.

‘One thing that we had noted with the passage of time was that the flats themselves and the lifts that served many of them were increasingly unsuitable for modern day motorised wheelchairs.’

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