There is a sense of immense pride and reward when we catch up with our clients who have been in their homes for a little while.
This family in Hertfordshire moved into their forever home in July 2022. The removal company arrived just in time for them to get some of their boxes unpacked before they headed off on holiday.
For most, this might sound perfect – a new home and a long summer break. But for this family it followed a long and involved journey of building a new home that was adapted to meet the needs of their son with cerebral palsy.
In a three-year journey to find the right property in the right location, the family were closely involved in both the planning and architectural design. They wanted to create the perfect family home that was not clinical and provided the support to give their son and family the best life.
PLG Consultants first worked with the family back in 2015. We helped them to find an interim property they could live in while we helped them to design and build their forever home.
The family was determined to include the facilities that supported them all and to design a layout that worked for them. They wanted “a home that allowed everyone in the family to be together and for their severely special needs son to be able to access all parts of the home”.
Unfortunately, shortly after moving in, after some essential unpacking and getting the kids into new schools and into a new routine, mum found herself in hospital. As a self-confessed perfectionist, she focused on the build, caring for the family and preparing to move to a new location, but she forgot to look after herself in the process.
It can often be difficult to juggle a home, numerous unplanned and ad-hoc events and tasks, and caring for family. And, as a result, her mental and physical health took a tumble.
She was in hospital for a short period and for her husband, who equally shares the care of the family, including three children 8-20 years plus a smallholding of chickens, goats and other animals, this made life even more challenging.
Reflecting, Mum realises now that she needed to look after herself just as much as everyone else, in order to be able to look after everyone else.
This was a huge wake-up call as the sickness event brought to light that a child with severe disabilities and a young family need two functioning parents to make the whole process work daily, otherwise, their entire unit falls apart.
The family have been in their home for 18 months now and she told us how their forever home has transformed their lives in the most positive way.
“Sometimes, I sit and think about the hours we’ve invested in drawings and plans sitting with the architects. I have kept the drawings for nostalgia. It was a labour of love, dedication and perfection to get here, but it has paid off.
“Everything about this place brings us joy because every aspect of the house works like a well-oiled machine for our son. It’s been the best decision, and we would never go back. Everything just works. I never envisaged this kind of comfort when it comes to taking care of our son and it’s way beyond what I could have imagined back then.
“The hard floors make it easy to move wheeled equipment around, the hoists allow our son access to all his equipment and the free walking element in all the hoisted areas, the hydro pool and changing rooms on-site means that we don’t have to travel for hours to receive the therapy he needs, and our location means the whole family benefit from being outdoors a lot more.
“It’s not clinical. We have everything we need to give our son the best life, we are all much happier. To see what a difference our home has made and how every part of it is accessible, means that the struggles we faced and every decision we made, have been well worth it. We are set for life.”
Alison Pressley, Senior Architect Team Leader at PLG Consultants explained:
“The project was driven by PLG, the wider client team and the family, to deliver the absolute best that could be achieved for our client.
“It certainly had its challenges, but was worth all of the effort as we achieved, not only an award-winning project but far more importantly, a home that went above all expectations.
“We created an elegant, warm and welcoming home, that seamlessly integrated all of the facilities and equipment that our client needed to make his day-to-day living as easy as possible. His home allowed him to take an active part in family life, and provide the whole family with a positive environment where they could all thrive.
“Returning to the property a year after we handed it back to the family allowed us to see the spaces in use exactly as they had been intended. It was lovely to see how well everything was wearing considering the heavy use of a wheelchair occupant, and the pride that the family took in showing us around what had been transformed from a completed building to a charming and inviting family home.
“We know that what we do makes a difference to our clients and their families, but seeing the impact first-hand is reward and recognition enough of what we set out to do at PLG every day.”
This article was shared as part of Parent Mental Health Day, an annual day run by stem4, a charity that promotes positive mental health in teenagers and those who support them. Find out more here.