What we have is a failure to communicate…

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?



7 thoughts on “What we have is a failure to communicate…

    • I wouldn’t mind if I needed a new kitchen. The previous two tenants didn’t cook worth a damn, so I don’t need one. I could use new taps and more cupboards – half a day’s work, no disruption. I don’t need them to scrape it back to an empty shell and start again! So I intend to be as obstructive as possible 😉

      Actually, I don’t really need to try – my normal routine will get in their way very effectively.

      • To keep them happy why not suggest they fit Couple of new cupboards,fit new doors to existing units with matching draw fronts. No mess. No adhesives to make you sick. New taps as you suggest and the whole job should take one day. ( I asked our kitchen fitter and that is how long he would take ).
        I hope that helps Ron


        • To be fair, Geoff, even that is more than it actually needs, but yeah, it’s worth suggesting to them. The previous tenant tiled both the kitchen and bathroom,and very nicely too, so I see no point in ripping all that out to replace it with something extremely cheap and probably nasty.

          Part 2 of this saga is coming up in a few minutes.

  1. I had this back in 2009. only it was all done at once. new kitchen, wet room instead of bathroom (which i must admit was brilliant in the end for me except they have this stupid idea of putting loo in one corner,sink in another and shower in the other (door in the 4th) whilst the pull cord for the link is…………between the door and the corner where sink is. and where is the most likely place to slip or fall? shower area. plus if you get S& D, you need the loo AND the sink close together.specially if your unable to clean up should you happen to be unexpectedly sick on the floor.) …rewiring in all the bungalow,no new windows,we had those put in some 4 years before after a couple of these bungalows were burgled. rotten window frames helped them so got new ones put in by the then LA. A new outside door with no spyhole in it (cant put them in the plastic doors i was told. we have no window on same side of bungalow as the door so even with patterned glass you cant tell who is there.) new fire.. choice of gas or electric.i chose gas…much nicer to look at.wasn’t told that the knob was at the bottom on the side. i couldn’t use it could i?? “oh we can get you a handle for that”……no they couldn’t. they don’t make them for that one. and 60 other elderly/disabled people were in same boat as i was. we had to pack everything into big boxes, from lounge etc. bedroom was safe as they were only renewing sockets and light fittings in there. those boxes, furniture etc went in a container wagon to be stored (my sister lost her table/4 dining chairs plus a box of ornaments her 4 kids had bought her over the years.) i packed what i could into my 2 sheds. leaving space for my pc chair in the big one.bought a beer fridge for milk etc.took tray with kettle full of water, mug, tea making stuff i kept out there.bread,plate knife spoon so could make lunch n me n my dog spent the next 2 weeks out there during the day. also bought a gazebo,. and things like his cage went under that and kept dry. had lived here 12 years then and sods law? was the first April we didn’t have any sun at all. was freezing. i caught a chest infection (having to sleep indoors at night didn’t help nor did the workmen who insisted on opening my bedroom door when it wasn’t necessary and leaving it open.so dust got in there. the last 4 weeks i virtually lived in the bedroom.with Hugo,my dog. i bought a laptop and dongle. a 3 network one. it didn’t work for more than a couple of minutes at most .kept dropping signal. so resorted to playing offline games from cd that my daughter put together for me. i couldn’t afford to go out every day. no car n taxi fares were bad enough even then..dust you wouldn’t believe,everywhere. i had my washer, table top cooker and table top dishwasher still in the lounge (not that i could use them until about a month after it all started). one weekend they left without telling me and left me with no loo. had to ring my HA who organised for someone to come back and fit it in temp for me. plus took my grab rail down which again was a problem. social services brought one of those frames that go around the loo with a seat in the middle. not easy to use but better than nothing. outside gate had to be fixed twice as they kept leaving it open in the wind so it sagged ,came off hinges altogether on one occasion. yes your right, it is horrendous and we didn’t get an alternative to move to either. plus the bedroom carpet, all of a few months old only, had to be replaced as they didn’t cover it under the bed and unbeknownst to me Hugo had peed at the end of th bed.a few times too (I have very little sense of smell..never had much most of my life for some reason.so never smelt it.) the whole process having upset him too. he even had a hoarse voice through barking at all the people coming n going. about 3 years ago, my sons turn, his flat was gutted. he too got chest infection. i brought him n his cat up here out of the way./ (that was fun…my dog/his cat… NOT) tried to keep him isolated in one room/ so i didn’t get it. course i did. soooooooooo that was 6 weeks for me and 6 for him/. oh and vets with the dog in the first week of living by day in the shed when he cut his paw on the door of the shed. great time was had by all……. again NOT. so yes. obstruct if you can. but tell them you need to get away while its going on. get your Dr & the nurses on your side.i couldn’t.didn’t have what you have,nor did i have nurses or any other officials coming as you do. sorry to go on so. but its not just in your area. as you can see. you Liverpool me Yorkshire.(wonder if those down south had the same problems?bet they didn’t.be interesting to find out, just out of curiosity.)

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