I live in a supported scheme. As many of you will know, I’m disabled and housebound.
The Housing Association has decided that, this year, we will all have new kitchens whether we need them or not – personally, I don’t. I could use a couple more cupboards but I see no need to rip out everything, including the tiles on the wall, and start again from scratch – a process, I’m told, which will take four days per flat, and there are 28 flats. This will be followed by new windows and new bathrooms – an almost total refurbishment while people are living in them. The effects of the noise, stress, and disruption are likely to be horrendous – can you say “Purgatory!”? And I am not going to be without a kitchen for four days – no way in hell!
It’s clear that no consideration has been given to the welfare of the residents, many of whom are old, and/or disabled. Me, I’m both. And I can’t just bugger off out every day. If they’d bothered talking to the residents, they’d know this. Such massive renovations in occupied property is a recipe for disaster.
This, then, is my response, emailed to the scheme manager this morning, who’d been snarled at earlier over the question of how the hell I’m supposed to eat for 4 days with a gutted kitchen. Even with pre-made food in the freezer, I still need kitchen access to reheat it, and ordering in takeaways for the duration is too expensive. Anyway, I’m very fussy about the quality of what I eat and wouldn’t even contemplate most takeaways:-
Just a thought, but I can get some stock in the freezer over the next week, and live on that for the duration. However, even though I’ll just be reheating, not cooking, I still need kitchen access.
That’s the good news!
The bad news is that my flat is going to be uninhabitable during the day – the dust and adhesives, not to mention the noise, will put me in hospital, if they don’t kill me. And no, I’m not being melodramatic. I’ll have to sheet up all my electronics, for the same reason.
And I won’t be alone in that, either – the flats are all going to be uninhabitable, the more so for anyone, like me, with respiratory problems.
That needs to be addressed by the contractors before starting work – they can’t just walk away at the end of the day, leaving the place full of dust and debris – it has to be made safe and habitable for me (and everyone else, of course – this isn’t just my problem, though it is my personal priority), in the evenings and overnight. By which I mean no dust, and definitely no adhesive fumes. I don’t know if they’ll use adhesives – just trying to cover all the bases as, for me, this is going to be a dangerous period** and I really don’t need more time in hospital as a result. My legs are healing, but I still have open wounds – this work can, and almost certainly will, increase the ever-present risk of infection. I’m sure the nurses will confirm that.
**Normal dust is a serious hazard for me – industrial detritus from the reconstruction will ramp up the risks to an unacceptable level unless steps are taken to eliminate/contain it (i.e. power saws used within the confines of the flats should utilise vacuum extraction, as should other power tools where appropriate, and not simply vent to atmosphere, in accordance with HSE regulations).
Then there’s the problem of being isolated from my life – which happens almost entirely online – for the duration, which isn’t acceptable.
For people like me, who are housebound, our online community is a vitally important lifeline – most “normal” people can’t understand this so I’ll have to ask you to take my word for it, and ask yourself how you’d feel if you had no contact with, well, anybody at all, for days.
Other people depend on me as much as I depend on them. I really need a broadband connection because being offline for 4 days will do me a lot of damage within my community. I have 3G connectivity on my phone for hospital and overnight here, but I normally spend up to 16 hours a day online, and for that the smartphone/3G combination is hopelessly inadequate.
And, of course, there are the nurses to consider. That means – and this isn’t negotiable, I’m afraid – on Mondays and Thursdays work cannot start until AFTER the nurses have been (I have quite a bit of prep to do before they arrive, which is usually mid to late morning, but, really, can be any time between 09.30 and 16.30 and it’s something over which I have no control).
Then there’s this, which seems insurmountable. I HAVE to take diuretics, both for my lymphoedema and heart failure. Not taking them for up to 4 days isn’t an option. This means I have to pee every 15- 20 minutes for most of the day (no, I’m not exaggerating). To complicate matters, my ME causes urge incontinence, which means that when I have to pee, I usually have mere seconds in which to do so. This is OK during the day as the bathroom is just a few yards away (my bedroom is too far away, so at night I use a commode). If I’m not in my flat then it becomes a serious problem.
Finally, the guy who was here the other day said he could move my sink a couple of feet to the right. If it would save time, I’m perfectly happy with it where it is. And you mentioned tile samples – are they going to rip out the existing tiles then?