After finishing education or reaching a certain age, young people often start to think about leaving home and living independently from their parents for the first time. This can be more difficult and complex when you have a disability like ataxia. However, if you want to, and you feel like you are able to, there are plenty of ways to maximise the level to which you live independently. However, independent living doesn’t have to mean living without any support – below is some information on where to find help and assistance, financial or otherwise.

One of the most important steps in moving towards living independently is ensuring that your potential home is adequate for your needs. The Disabled Living Foundation (DLF) website (http://www.dlf.org.uk/) has a useful tool that can help you compile a comprehensive list of any requirements you may have, they also have advice on what equipment to choose depending on your own personal needs.

According to the DLF, social care services can offer financial support to give you more freedom of movement around your home and provide essential facilities within it.

This may include:

  • widening doors and installing ramps
  • providing or improving access to rooms and facilities – for example: by installing a stair-lift or providing a downstairs bathroom
  • improving or providing a heating system that suits your needs
  • adapting heating or lighting controls to make them easier to use
  • improving access to and movement around the home to enable you to care for another person who lives in the property, such as a child

A Home Improvement Agency (HIA) will also give you free advice about what work needs to be done, and can even recommend builders that can carry out the adjustments.                                              

Depending on your personal needs, you may also be entitled to financial aid to help you live independently, for example the Disabled Facilities Grant which is a ‘means-tested’ financial grant. It helps meet the cost of adapting a property (including mobile homes and houseboats) where a disabled person lives.

Disability Rights UK has loads of really helpful fact-sheets on their website that can help guide you through all aspects of living independently, as well as answering any questions you may have. You can access them via this link http://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/how-we-can-help/independent-living

For extra information you could also take a look at the NHS web page on Independent Living - http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Disability/Pages/Independent.aspx

Which also includes details on how to arrange a health and social care assessment, to establish the help and support you may need if you’re a bit unsure.

It’s worth doing some research and comparing your personal needs to the services available to you – you don’t have to rush into anything and the more time you take to do a bit of research, the more likely it will be that you’ll be able to get the level of independence that you wish for.