Disabilities Facilities Grant = What You Should Know
0 comment Wednesday, September 10, 2014 |
Interestingly enough, even though I've been told that DFGs do not cover garden works, I have found this little tidbit from Parliment's archives:
On 22 May 2008 access to a garden was brought within the scope of a DFG where the work will facilitate access to and from a garden by a disabled occupant or make access to a garden safe for a disabled occupant.
However in addition to this:
Before issuing a DFG a local housing authority must satisfy itself that the works are necessary and appropriate to meet the needs of the disabled person and are reasonable and practicable depending on the age and condition of the property.
So, in theory, garden access is indeed something one can apply for - the difficulty is in convincing your local council that it is a need, not a want. It is important to note that this is for access, not for plants, which may be where many charities get confused or think that garden works are of no use - but broken paving, uneven turf, muddy tracks and stairs without handrails all constitute access. If you're in a wheelchair, getting a properly paved patio so you can get outside counts, but the raised beds do not. If you're able to walk but with a walking aid, uneven turf counts. Indeed, any surface where you could potentially lose your footing counts, from paths to the front door to paths outside, crumbling stairs or places where a ramp would be a better bet.
It never occured to me that uneven turf could be fixed. I personally wasn't aware that there was a way to fix a humpy, uneven garden, but there is. It's highly expensive and some would say that it's unnecessary, but since it means I can't put a single playtoy outside for fear of it tipping over on my child, mowing and maintenance is very difficult due to always potentially losing my footing, my son who tends to toe-walk and toe-run takes tumbles quite often, the request then becomes of higher importance and can be treated as an access problem and not merely a "beautifying" issue.
In my case, a hyperactive autistic child whose needs are well documented through disabled nursery attendance and school behaviour comes in handy. It is quite obvious to anyone who meets my son that he is very active, has no sense of danger, and even though he can talk, it doesn't mean that autism isn't still very much in evidence. Indeed, I think that's my biggest stumbling block; there's this unspoken assumption that an autistic child who talks must be "just" ADHD or have Aspergers. They treat such children as if they were mainstream, and then find themselves extremely shocked when perfectly normal autistic behaviour crops up - even if I warn them in advance. The school has already found this out the hard way, even though both I and my ex-husband expressed concerns that sprog's behaviour was deteriorating and that steps might need to be taken as his frustration level was obviously building from somewhere.
In order to apply for a disabilities facilities grant, several things need to be done first:
Understand that you will need an Occupational Therapist to come out and see you, and that they will not even bother until you're on DLA. Get your DLA sorted FIRST, and yes, I know, you're going to have to appeal, a LOT. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau can help - I had a friend from pensions help me fill out the form. But without a registered disabled status for yourself, you won't even get so much as a look in.
Next, do your research and be fully armed; you have to be your own advocate. I have links to the side here from Thrive, TWIGS, Cultivations and other places that research the effect of therapeutic gardening. Print off everything you can, and read up. Be prepared to hand over the latest studies on the perks of therapeutic gardening. I would even suggest you stress that you would plant fruit and vegetables to promote your own healthy eating and assist in cutting food bill costs - this is extremely important as many disabled people eat a very substandard diet and there are many who are malnurished. I have to stress that my son, being autistic, is very picky about his food and I desperately need to introduce better eating habits. Gardening is supposed to help with this, which is why so many schools have gardens of their own.
Do not be tempted to downplay your condition; I know we all do this on a regular basis to make ourselves feel better and just to get through the day. But when you're trying to get help, you need to state the worst case scenario. If you have a condition which will degenerate, then be sure to state this. Think in advance and don't feel you just have to "make do". I shouldn't have to struggle to mow an uneven lawn if it's going to exhaust me for days afterwards - and if my son tends to run full tilt and has already fallen and hurt himself on uneven footing, then that also needs to be mentioned.
Be prepared for a fight; you are going to hear "no" before you hear "yes". This happens, mostly due to weeding out requests. Some people will give up, but the very determined (and those who will actually use what they get) will insist and appeal as much as possible and as necessary to get what they need. Again, this is where the Citizen's Advice Bureau and the advocacy charities can come to your aid. There is a tonne of red tape to sort through in order to get you assistance, but there are just as many charities and groups out there willing to grab a scissors. I will leave it to better minds to postulate why the laws themselves don't just change instead and save everyone the trouble.
As I am currently waiting on my own DLA application (and what will more than likely be my first rejection and need for appeal), I will be trying to go the DLA route in order to get the returfing done. Again, I'm more than likely going to need a lot of help with it and I want to get it right the first time.
Keep the hope!