Karen relaxing in her living room

Karen was living in a rented house in Luton, when she needed to take over the care of her  grandson who lives with severe learning and sensory disabilities as well some physical disabilities

“I loved my house, but it was so unsuitable for looking after my grandson. He has no concept of depth, so steps and stairs are a real problem. Social Services moved us into temporary accommodation, but these didn’t meet my grandson’s needs and they were expensive for the local authority.

“One of these places was a Victorian terraced house with a narrow staircase. I would only manage to tackle the stairs with him once in the morning and then again at bedtime, so my grandson was limited to just the two downstairs rooms all day. With only a shower cubicle in the house, it was a nightmare to get my grandson in and out of it safely. I was physically struggling and finding it hard to cope. It was imperative that suitable housing was found for us.

“Then a property came up with Grand Union; a spacious bungalow with a garden, in a Bedfordshire village not too far from other members of my family. It needed quite a bit of work to make it safe for my grandson – a wet room, handrails and the back garden fencing off because there was a deep pond at the rear. With limited learning capacity and no fear of danger, my grandson just wouldn’t be safe in the garden unless it was fully enclosed.

“Alex in Grand Union’s Onboarding team was really good and kept me informed along the way, as the Occupational Therapy team helped with the extensive amount of work that was needed to make the bungalow as safe as possible for my grandson.

“The work was completed and we moved in a few months ago. Now he has a safe environment and has options about where he can be – in his bedroom, that he loves, the living room, the kitchen, where we have an induction cooker so he can’t burn himself, or the garden, where he has a slide to play on or his bike.”

Karen isn’t afraid of hard work; not only does she look after her grandson, she also works full-time.

“I work from home while my grandson is at school and make up any hours when he spends one day a week in respite care.

“I get advice and support from all the relevant agencies, and I work closely with my grandson’s school to help with his independence, trying to encourage him to feed himself. This will help to make his transition to supported living when he’s older.

“The difference this bungalow has made is incredible. My grandson’s independence is growing already; he can make his own decisions about where he wants to be over the course of the day, which is the right of every child. Before, I had to be his shadow, following him round all the time.

“Physically, it’s much easier for me to care for him here – there are no stairs for me to manoeuvre him up or down, which makes my life so much easier.

“Looking after my grandson can be hard work, but he’s such a happy child; he’s cheeky, got a giggle to die for and he melts people’s hearts. I’m a lucky woman.”