Flagship BBC TV programme, DIY SOS, has ensured wheelchair-user Karis Lane can avoid going into care by fitting equipment from Stiltz and Abacus.
Karis, 28, is a criminology student who lives with her mum Karen in Stourbridge. She needs constant care due to Cerebral Palsy and other conditions but her Mum also has her own health challenges including severe rheumatoid arthritis.
This means lifting and carrying Karis had put a huge strain on them both physically and mentally.
It was also exacerbated by Karen’s partner recently being diagnosed with cancer, their situation was unsustainable.
Older sister Jo and partner Wil stepped up to provide a home for Karis, but with an inaccessible house, it was equally as difficult to offer Karis comfort and independence in Bromsgrove.
Difficulties meant that the only alternative was moving Karis into care which filled the family with dread, prompting Mum Karen to contacted DIY SOS with a plea for help.
The application sparked interest from the programme researchers and resulted in Jo and Wil being given the opportunity for a home conversion and two-storey extension by DIY SOS The Big Build.
In addition to donation requests for construction companies and tradesmen, messages were sent out to suppliers of specialist assistive equipment so that the Lane’s home could be fitted with appropriate products for easier care of Karis.
Homelift specialist Stiltz responded immediately to donate a homelift which would open up access for Karis and increase safety for the whole family.
Following assessment of their needs, Stiltz determined their next-generation Trio+ wheelchair-accessible homellift should be fitted to allow direct access from the ground floor to Karis’ apartment.
Both Stiltz Homelifts and Dolphin Midlands worked closely with the DIY SOS team to complete the installation within an extremely challenging time frame.
Additionally, before the build, senior representatives from Abacus visited Johanna’s house to assess Karis and to ascertain which bath would provide the ideal solution for her.
A Scorpio 1700 bath with powered height adjustment and bather transfer seat was deemed most appropriate as it would eliminate the need for manual lifting and lowering of Karis.
Once Karis was lifted, rotated and lowered into the bath on the transfer seat, the bath could be raised gently immersing Karis into temperature controlled water.
This would provide a safer, more enjoyable experience for Karis and allow family members to help with personal hygiene at a comfortable height, without risking back or muscle injury.
During the construction work, the Abacus design and technical teams were in regular contact with project managers to ensure all pre-installation works were completed according to the required specification.
Commenting on how the bath will help, Johanna explained: “We never imagined we would receive a specialist bath as part of the conversion, we are so lucky. I have tended to bathe my sister the most and being tall, 5’ 9”, my back has been getting worse having to bend and lift Karis in and out all the time. Trying to lift and dry her when she was wet and slippery was a nightmare. This resulted in more strip washes when sat on the toilet which were not pleasant for Karis. Now she can have a proper bath and feel completely clean.”