The usual reason for delayed discharge of patients from the National Spinal Injuries Centre is that accessible housing is not yet ready for them. So Stoke Mandeville is encouraging me to think ahead. They say that I might be able to leave the hospital anytime from January 2008.
So we need to get prepared. Rather than trying to convert our (excessively vertical) Oxford family house to make it accessible, I intend, when I leave here, to move to West Oxfordshire.
My grandfather, Michael Graham-Jones, lives in an old house in Standlake, with a large and level garden. The plan is to build a wheelchair-friendly extension out into his garden for me, as Michael already has planning permission for such a single storey structure on this site. We have decided on a wood-framed building (www.oakcraft.co.uk) for reasons of ecology, economy and speed of erection. The community-based occupational therapists are already in the picture, and will advise on details of what I will need.
We have now come up with a new idea. Because the extension will be a small living space, it has been suggested that we could build a studio – The Pavilion – in another part of the garden, where I could invite friends and colleagues to visit me. Michael also sees this as a possible venue for Exuberant Trust charity events, which will benefit other young people (see www.exuberant-trust.org.uk).
The crunch is that we will need to raise the funds for the Pavilion from scratch.
So we are setting up a Pavilion Trust Fund, to which any well-wishers are invited to contribute. Donations will go towards the costs of building this social and work space, and the provision of equipment and facilities for potential improvements to my mobility and future career aspirations.
We will post more details on the Fund soon. We are in a hurry to get both the extension and the Pavilion built by the time I am ready to leave hospital.. We would love to hear from you if you have ideas or expertise to offer, or think that you might be able to help in raising funds for the Pavilion.