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Mobility Aids

I tried wheelchair rugby and it was #BRUTIFUL !

January 19, 2020

The knot in my stomach tightened, my legs felt like lead, I’m so rubbish at sports. I walked up to Britannia Leisure Centre. I’ve never played rugby. I’ve never been in control of a wheelchair. What if I humiliate myself, let my team down? Nobody will want me in their team. I’ve already arrived late.

I opened the swing doors to the sports hall, sports noise blasted out at me: a referee whistle, cheers, clapping and laughter. I felt a buzz of excitement. I had arrived at the Bolt Burdon Kemp wheelchair rugby event.

A few days before, I had been thumping away at my computer, I work from home and I was feeling quite isolated. My email inbox pinged. ‘ooh a non-work email!’ an invitation

“I am emailing to check whether you may be available and would like to attend the Wheelchair Rugby event organised by Bolt Burdon Kemp… I have played wheelchair rugby before and loved every minute of it! The event is run by Wheelchair Rugby Experience who take into account different levels of abilities to ensure that wheelchair rugby can be enjoyed by everyone. It can also give a great insight into what it means to be a wheelchair user… if this is of interest to you, it would be great to see you there!”

I didn’t hesitate. “yes. Yes. Yes please !”

“Wonderful” was the reply “see you there. “

I Googled Wheelchair Rugby Experience…

The day, lead and run by Paralympians, will provide a competitive day with a focus on specific issues of trust building, decision-making, communication, leadership, honesty, problem-solving, and change management. This experience will challenge your team’s dynamics and encourage self-reflection as well as being great fun. It is shaped completely with you in mind and we will guide you through building your Wheelchair Rugby Experience.

wheelchair rugby experiene buildmumahouse
©www.wheelchairrugbyexperience.com

As soon as I arrived and I was welcomed by staff from Bolt Burdon Kemp and my nerves melted away. The event was so well organised and the atmosphere was warm and supportive. I was allocated my team colour, introduced to my team mates and we were each given a pair of gloves. Now for the safety briefing and introduction to wheelchair rugby!

Rugby wheelchairs are something out of Mad Max! Steel and structural, they are designed with a metal hoop around the base, protecting your legs and feet when in rugby ‘combat.’ The wheels and every detail have been designed to protect you and keep you upright so that you can feel safe and that you too, can smash and tackle fearlessly.

I learnt that the gloves were not just to keep my hands from blistering. They helped me grip the wheels of the wheelchair, and helped me to spin the wheels and try and go as fast as possible…and also when in a manoeuvre to tackle opponents.

Keep your arms away from the wheels or you will get friction burns!

This is how you pick the ball off the floor and this is how you ride with the ball on your lap.

Suddenly the whistle blows and we’re off! Of course I was not as rubbish as I thought I would be, of course I felt safe in the design of the wheelchair. I was having fun and doing my best to do my bit for the team. On the side lines, keeping an eye on the game and the players, whizzing over to help, advise, encourage, give tactical advice were the professionals. 

Game one was over. Everyone from both teams, wheeled around and we did high fives, shook hands “well done” gripped each other’s arms. We were all equals, we looked each other in the eye and laughed “great game.”

I wheeled over to the side line. I stood up and walked away from the wheelchair and suddenly as I went to share a joke with a team mate I felt very vulnerable. Today I could stand up and walk away, skip about and run but there were team mates that I had just played with and they couldn’t. They were busy transferring into their own wheelchairs. 

The day tournament was organised by Bolt Burdon Kemp – BBK – a firm of solicitors who specialise in a range of cases including serious injury claims. During the day I had some really insightful conversations with their solicitors and their colleagues about their work. BBK represent people who have sustained brain injury, spinal injury and they deal with medical negligence and accident claims. I began to realise how complex injury cases are in terms of the legal proceedings and how passionately they represent their clients. Each of the solicitors I spoke to had a detailed knowledge of their area of specialism, not just in terms of the law, but also the medical facts. What made me really stop and think was when they explained to me the impact on a person’s life, physically, mentally and how a family is impacted not just financially. I also spoke to a few people in our teams who had had life changing injuries. We spoke about how their lives had changed, their legal battles. I heard how one person who, experiencing the Invictus Games, had been inspired and motivated, leading them to train and become an athlete at an international level.

My Wheelchair Rugby experience totally blew me away. I met some fantastic people, we laughed, we pulled stomach muscles, I was totally outrun by team mates who were disabled and wheelchair users. I experienced how it feels when a room is not wheelchair friendly or a conversation goes on above your head. Most of all, I realised how important the support of a team is and how sport lifts us all.

A great day, we all won. 

Bolt Burdon Kemp are specialist claims solicitors covering brain injury, spinal injury, military claims, abuse claims, medical negligence and accident claims.

An amazing spa bathroom for any age

December 2, 2019
Jola Piesakowska Buildmumahouse bathroom sink ageproof bathroom

I was at a location house a few weeks ago, owned by interiors stylist Catherine Woram and architectural designer Michael Bains. I was captivated how beautiful the entire house was. Every room. But it was the bathrooms that did it for me – I need one of these! Each bathroom was full of beautiful, clever details all in perfect harmony. A perfect retreat from the stresses and strains of the world, your own private spa.

small moroccan bathroom

The flat whiteness of the walls and painted floor are fresh and uplifting. The huge over mantel mirror bounces light all around and by painting the ornate frame white it looks perfect over the basins. The sense of light in this room is perfect for anyone with weakened eyesight: details are crisp and defined.

Catherine Woram has used an shabby and ornate console table as a basin stand. Its fun and its chic. Complementing the shabby paintwork and wooden top is a rustic copper basin.. and a very modern chrome u bend. It looks fantastic and this basin stand is in fact ideal for anyone who needs to pull up a stool when using the sink. Wouldn’t it be perfect if an ornate basin stand like this was wheelchair friendly too!

The basin and tap styling is Moroccan French rustic chateau meets modern, sleek chrome. These levered taps are easy to use for anyone with reduced mobility, the narrow console table/basin stand also means that you wouldn’t need to stretch forward to reach them. This is exactly what Build Mum a House is all about. You shouldn’t need to compromise the look of your home for ease of use.

TAPS AND MIXER

White floor boards, pale flat greys shades, chandeliers, copper basins. I took some photos on my phone to try and capture the magic… and then as I turned to leave the room I noticed the bathroom door lock. Absolutely beautiful, inspired, on theme AND completely up my street.

In 1970 I was 8. I got stuck in a Hayling Island beach car park toilet. As I had gone to leave, the catch on the big brass mechanism was so fiddly, the old penny dropped down inside the brass mechanism.  I was left behind in the locked cubicle. I wailed. Finally, a very kind lady heard me and put another penny in the lock. Released, I ungraciously ran out, humiliated, in tears, to join my sister who had already got back into our parents’ car!

That’s why I like a nice and easy privacy lock on a bathroom door.

It’s not about lack of mobility and everything with being a bit clumsy. I am not alone on this one. I know I’m not.

And do you know what this bathroom features as a door lock? It’s light and easy to use, large handle that is good for a weak grip and very pretty. The lock on the door is a Moroccan Aldrop and latch. No, I didn’t know they were called that either. This is a very nice decorated version of a metal sliding bolt, that you can see when you wander round the souks and admire the ancient Moorish buildings and their intricate front doors.

bathroom lock

Buildmumahouse is all about finding chic interiors that are perfect for age proof living, for aging at home, for anyone with mobility issues, young or old. This beautiful bathroom is perfect, it’s a visual feast and it addresses many practical issues. Proof that a beautiful interior can be ageproof.

If you would like to see more of my photos fof inspirational interiors then follow me and go to my Buildmumahouse Instagram account, click here  And for more well designed and easy to use bathroom locks go to my bathroom Pinterest boards at Buildmumahouse.

 

 

 

 

 

Mobility issues and LIDL- #LIDLSURPRISES

September 19, 2019
wheelchair-checkout-and-trolley-lidl-suprises-buildmumahouse jola piesakowska

Is Lidl the only UK supermarket that has useful stuff for the elderly, disabled and anyone with reduced mobility? Are they tackling mobility issues head on?

Today, Sunday 18th September 2016, I would definitely say YES!

lidl-suprises-wheelchair-and-trolley-at-checkout-buildmumahouse

We’re all queuing up at Lidl checkout, today.

Doing my Sunday shop today, I came across a whole range of mobility aids that are really well priced and really useful. It is fantastic to find these products on the High Street and also to find a supermarket that addresses the needs of its customers. From items that help to open a jam jar, to low mobility exercise kit, these are basic items that are hard to track down and being sold at very pocket friendly price.

 

lidl-buildmumahouse-shower-stool

lidl-shower-stool-buildmumahouse

Right in the middle of the shop – no hiding of ‘disabled items’ in a corner, Lidl’s shower stool is proudly displayed.

This Shower Stool is not great for my mum’s needs – she really does need arm rests and back support, but for a basic Shower Stool, this is definitely Lidl addressing mobility issues – yes its true, #lidlsurprises. The shower seat height is adjustable, it has non-slip feet and would allow anyone who needs a bit of support the chance to enjoy their shower, and even give their feet a good scrub without fear of falling or slipping. When I was recovering from a broken leg, this stool would have been ideal.

Arm and Leg Trainer

The next item that caught my eye was the Lidl Arm and Leg trainer. This is such a good exercise item. From a seated position you can exercise your legs or arms and help yourself keep moving.

  • 2-in-1 effective training device for targeted strengthening of arm and leg muscles
  • Can be used whilst seated
  • Built-in computer with 7 functions and large,
  • easy-to-read LCD display – shows workout duration, speed, distance and calories burnt
  • Adjustable resistance for a range of strength levels
  • Size approx. (cm): W42 x H31 x D38
  • Max. 100kg

arm-and-leg-trainer-lidl-buildmumahouse

Kitchen Aids

My favourite items are the kitchen aids. A bargain at £2.49 and so useful.

lidl-surprise-pricing

#lidlsurprises: My Top Three Lidl Kitchen Aids

Grip Impaired Power Bottle Opener

lidl-bottle-opener-buildmumahouse-lidlsurprise

Didn’t know such a thing existed but this exactly what I need to open screw top bottles of fizzy water. The Power Bottle Opener is ideal if you have a  weakened grip, the extra turning power you get from this gadget makes a huge difference. Also a must for carers.

Grip Impaired Lid Opener

lidl-lid-opener-buildmumahouse lidlsurprises

Did you know a tool like this opens vacuum-sealed jars? For years I have followed the advice of a friend’s granny and I bash the edge of the jam jar lid on my worktop marble slab until I dent it so much the vacuum seal is broken. Well, no more! I now have the Lidl Lid Opener: #lidsurprises again!

The Nail Saver: Ring-Pull Can Opener

ring-can-opener-lidl-buildmumahouse-lidlssurprises

What can I say other than no more broken nails and no more bent tea spoon handles. Yes, I bought the Lidl Ring-Pull Can Opener. I also bought one for my mum so that she doesn’t do a Yuri Geller and bend all of her spoons either.

I Didn’t Buy These but I’m Sure Someone Will:

Lidl Key Turning Aid

key-turning-aid-lidl-buildmumahouse-lidlsurprises

I bought my mum one of these from an online supplier a couple of years ago. They are great for anyone with arthritis but my mum found them too cumbersome and refused to carry it in her handbag… so when I built her house, I bought a front door lock that has proved to be easy to unlock. But I’m sure someone will find that key turning aids are perfect for their needs.

jam-jar-opener-lidsurprises-buildmumahouse

If you are a regular Lidl shopper you will recognise what’s gone on here – the item has been taken out of the box and I couldn’t find any others still boxed up.

This is a jam jar opener, its a cumbersome, ugly thing but apparently it works.

#LidlSuprises?

I love the packaging design, well thought out, clear and also witty (see how 2 boxes next to each other can make up the image). Pricing is fantastic. Usefulness spot on. It’s great to see such a wide range of simple and effective mobility aids in a local supermarket and not just in a online disabled catalogue.

Massive thumbs up to Lidl, but I do wish these kitchen aids weren’t in blue and white.

Think outside the box! You’ve go the products right. Now give us some COLOUR, Lidl, we want our kitchens and homes to look lovely and personal.

5 Easy Steps to Make Your Garden Accessible and Enjoyable

September 18, 2019
Sunny garden living #london #tooting #balham #palm #interior #inspirationoftheday #Blissful #exterior #exteriordesign #textile #pattern #foliage #leag #green buildmumahouse Jola Piesakowska garden design

“I love my garden but I don’t have time for it.” “I miss my garden but I’m too old and too ill to go out there and do any gardening.”  At Buildmumahouse I’ve found that there are 5 easy steps that you can take to make your garden, patio or balcony more accessible.

It’s really important for anyone old, weakened by illness, depressed or less able …and their carers alike… to take a break, open up their horizons and enjoy all of the benefits of focusing on the wonder of nature. Doing a bit of gardening, helping plants thrive and picking the fruits of one’s patch is so good for all of us.

Plant bulbs in Autumn to cheer you up in Spring bulbs-buildmumahouse-jola-piesakowska

Plant bulbs in Autumn to cheer you up in Spring

These are 5 simple steps to make you garden more accessible and enjoyable…

Continue Reading…

The Buildmumahouse 10 step guide to your forever home.

August 16, 2019

I’ve found my forever home and I don’t intend to move. I love my home and I want to start making it the perfect nest for me. I don’t know what lies ahead for me health wise but I do want to grow old here. How can I make my home as ageproof and as beautiful as possible?

I’ve put together a top 10 step guide and suggestions based on my experiences as a carer and Buildmumahouse blogger – steps that anyone can make in order to future proof your forever home.

Step 1 – LED light bulbs

It’s an investment, they are expensive, but this takes minutes to implement and they have an immediate impact.

Over time you will find that as LED bulbs last a long time, 25,000 t0 50,000 hours, they will reduce the number of times in a year that you have to reach up, step on a ladder or chair and change the ceiling lights.

LEDs will reduce your lighting electricity bills, it’s estimated that this can be as much as a 90% saving.

Light up your life and make it easier to see. Support your eyesight by installing effective lighting and create the mood areas in your home that are favourite with interior designers. Install daylight / cool temperature lights in any food prep or craft areas and warm lights in cosy, relaxing areas. Light temperature can lift our mood – there are claims that daylight bulbs can be used to reduce the depressive symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The right LED can change your life

jola piesakowska buildmumahouse lighting led lights open plan living ageproof mood lighting

The living area lights are warmer and the kitchen lights are spots that are usually used in retail lighting- they are direction spotlights and the bulbs have a very wide but bright even light.

…And finally make sure areas such as steps and the stairs are well lit, read my blog post with more details here.

Step 2 – Install lever taps

Easy to use lever taps don’t have to make bathrooms and kitchens look like pre – op scrub room. There are so many fantastic, well designed lever taps on the market but do invest in taps with smooth, positive mechanisms.

When looking at lever taps for a sink or shower ask yourself: Do they look nice? Do they fit in with my styling? Can I can turn the water on using only the palm of a very soapy hand and with my eyes closed ? Will I have full control of the water flow and perhaps more importantly, temperature.

Jola Piesakowska bathroom taps lever CP Hart Arc taps

Classic styling lever taps, basin and matching shower controls

In the kitchen consider lever taps with a built in water filter, I did and now I don’t have to buy unwieldy bottles of filtered water in the supermarket every week.

Jola Piesakowska Buildmumahouse Brita water tap

Kitchen lever tap with built in lever taps for filtered water

Step 3 – Bathroom Wetroom

This is a biggie and it can have maximum impact on your life and maximum disruption when you are doing the building work.

Think shower, think sitting while showering, think grab rails, think wetroom. This is such a huge subject and a few blog posts in itself but here are the main points to ageproof a bathroom:

  • Get rid of any steps in the room, avoid trips.
  • Seriously consider installing a wet room, this will give you a bathroom with a level floor. For a really cool, modern take on it, think laterally about the shower design – read my review of Jee-O
  • Use non- slip flooring, have a look at the Forbo range, or seamed vinyl Altro safety flooring.

Altro flooring

  • Don’t need grab rails or a shower seat? Prepare the wall structures for that possibility by installing a 2x 2 wood frame in the appropriate areas of any stud walls.
  • If you don’t want to get rid of your bath right now but have the budget to remodel your bathroom, consider this trade tip: create a wetroom, get all the plumbing ready for a shower but install a bath in its place. It’s a ‘temporary’ arrangement and when you need to ditch the bath, the conversion will take days not weeks.

Step 4 – Bathroom Basin

Basin, lever taps and consider installing a basin with space to sit when you use it.

Jola Piesakowska Buildmumahouse bathroom sink ageproof bathroom

Spa style ageproof spa basin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take a look at the practical HEWI range, but also think pampering and perhaps even spa – either way do make sure the basin is well secured to the wall, in case you need to steady yourself.

HEWI basin with integrated grab rails and lots of surface area surrounding it

HEWI high end design design and disability focused.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 5 – Loo Pan

Look out for a toilet pan that is taller than average, to make lowering yourself easier. You don’t need to buy a ‘disabled’ loo pan just check the height of the ones that fit in with your design style.

If you have the space, select one that projects out from the wall as far as possible, this will make it easier to use with grab rails or transferring from a wheelchair.

Arthritic hands make it harder to use button flushes so do consider a cistern with a handle flush.

Step 6 – Door handles and locks

Review your door handles and door locks: a chunky door handle, well sprung, smooth in the hand and with good tonal variation from the door surface  is what you are looking for. This will help weakened or arthritic hands, and weakened eyesight.

Jola Piesakowska buildmumahouse door handle

Step 7 – Staircases

Improve the lighting on your stairs, think about low level lights that illuminate the steps or ceiling lights that illuminate the whole area.

Review the electrics – make sure that the lights can be switched on and off upstairs and downstairs and if you would like to make it mobility proof, consider adding a socket at the foot of the stairs.  So handy for the vacuum cleaning, but also makes the area ready to power a stairlift in the future. This is your forever home.

Buildmumahouse stairlist stannah stairlift jola piesakowska

Step 8 – Kitchen Cupboards

  • High visibility, easy to reach and it looks good that’s the mantra for kitchens – a base unit with deep drawers rather than a cupboard with doors improves acccess to cupboards. Look at how this can be applied to your choice of dishwashers and freezers.
  • Door handles – as with all doors, go for an easy to use, high contrast / visibility handle.
  • Waist height, side opening oven allows you to reach into the oven more easily and even better if there is a slide out shelf beneath it so you can pause and rest the hot and heavy casserole on it.
  • A high contrast worktop for good visibility, white is the best. I installed white sparkly in my mum’s house, looks great and does the job!
  • Lots of cold/white light shining down on the worktop, including under cupboard lights, everything illuminated.

jola piesakowska kitchen design

You can sit with your feet under the hob and you can option to make the height of this adjustable.

I reviewed Howden’s inclusive kitchens read through this… some of their ideas and features could work for you.

Step 9 – Electrics

Sourcing replacement light switches with wide rockers certainly is a budget installation and one that makes a difference for arthritic hands.

In this image you can see how I have clustered the wide rocker bedroom light switch with a central heating thermostat and the video door phone.

Control Centre!

Control Centre!

Step 10 – Easy Clean, Low Allergenic Flooring

Consider parquet, cork flooring, linoleum:

https://buildmumahouse.co.uk/2016/02/5-floorings-to-consider-for-people-living-with-allergies-or-asthma/

…with underfloor heating or rugs that have an anti- slip backing.

 

Wicanders cork flooring

c. Wicanders cork flooring

 

Step 10 a – Carers

Make a contingent for someone staying over, a spare bedroom or upgrade to a sofa bed.

Step 10 b – Let the Natural Light In

Read my blog post how double glass doors, use of mirrors, over sized windows and garden doors can lighten and brighten your home and increase its style.

 

All of these steps are covered individually in other posts on Buildmumahouse, have a look round for more detail. If you have any tips or hints on how you have adapted your home to make it ageproof and stylish WE ALL WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!!!

So please, share your comments below…

 

 

 

 

The right LED can change your life!

August 14, 2019
jola piesakowska pot luck restaurant cape town led lighting buildmumahouse Build Mum A House

Do you find that you can’t see as well at home in the evening? Do you need to ask for help to change light bulbs? Would you like to make savings on your electricity bills? Would you like create mood lighting in your home?

Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 23.11.03

LED bulbs may be the answer! I think that the right LED can change your life. There’s been a lot of change in light bulb technology and loads more choice in the shops since ordinary light bulbs started to be phased out. That’s why it can be tough getting a clear idea of what LED bulb to buy.

Long Life

For me LED bulbs were a no brainer. My mum can’t reach her ceiling light bulbs and the thought of her being stuck in the dark while I raced over to change a light bulb meant that I was delighted to buy bulbs that can have 25,000 even 50,000 hours of life. These new LED bulbs have a long life but always check the pack for life span – look at the amount of hours not days, after all you don’t know how many hours consitutes a day for some manufacturers! It seems that there isn’t an official standard for LED bulbs and reliability does vary between manufacturers

Energy Saving

Elderly people living on a budget could be tempted to skimp on how many lights they have on at home to make savings on the electricity bills. A combination of low light and poor eyesight means that tripping can become a real hazard. The good news is that LED bulbs use 90% less energy than a traditional light bulb (incadescent)… so you can make a saving on your bills as well as lighting your home well. Look out for bulbs that have gills on them – LED lights are cool to the touch and need to be kept cool. That’s exactly what those gills are doing: allowing the heat to dissipate.

Choosing the right bulb power can be confusing – I made up a chart that helps me decide which bulb to buy:

buildmumahouse jola piesakowska led lights lumens

This applies to UK power supplies

Next question… I’ve seen it on the pack. What on earth is Lumens? I found the chart below on a fact sheet produced by the Electrical Contractor’s Association website and it explains that lumens measures the amount of light radiated by the bulb. There is a further measurement and that is lux – but it’s not often a bit of information that is printed on a bulb box.

Build Mum A House Buildmumahouse

Quality of Light

When I was building my mum’s house she only had a few ‘must’ s and having a bright kitchen was vital for her. She was adamant that only a florescent tube would deliver enough light. However the plans had an open plan kitchen / living area. Florescent tubes are are white and bright and light up all the area around it, not so good if you want to create mood areas. LED lights have been fantastic, they give a directional light. I found that I was able to choose not only the angle of the beam but also the colour of light that is given off

  • daylight bulbs for the kitchen area
  • warm light for the sitting and relaxing area.

source: www.eca.co.uk

source: www.eca.co.uk

and finally there is the question of CRI I found this chart on the Philips website and it explains it quite simply that you should look for a CRI of 80-90:

Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 22.55.50

Yes, its confusing and you need to shop carefully… but these are expensive bulbs, they should last a long time and they can make a difference to your quality of light in your home.

TOP TIPS to help you choose the right LED bulb

  • Check for lifespan for estimated in hours not years/days.
  • Look for a well built bulb case with gills on it to keep the bulb cool and last longer.
  • Check out the angle of the light bulb – LEDs are directional so pick a wide angle for a good spread and narrow angle for highlighting.
  • Daylight colour bulbs are good for hobby areas or food prep areas. Warm lights are great for a relaxing area and are closer to the look of traditional bulbs.
  • For hobby areas where accurate colour can help the definition of what you are working on, look for a bulb that has a CRI of 80 to 90

I’m looking at mood lighting on my Instagram account Buildmumahouse and would love to hear from you if you who have any experiences or advice to share of setting up mood and task areas in your home