Abacus BBC DIY SOS Lane family with new bath
Johanna, Karen and Karis with their new Abacus bath

A number of companies in the industry have helped positively change the lives of an ambitious disabled student and her family by donating and installing a number of mobility, independent living and access solutions.

Airing on the 20th November 2019, popular BBC TV programme DIY SOS set out to ensure 28-year-old Karis Lane, a Criminology student living with Cerebral Palsy, Asperger’s and Turner Syndrome, could live with her sister Johanna Lane after her mother Karen was no longer able to continue caring for her daughter.

Living with her mum in Stourbridge in the West Midlands, Karis requires a wheelchair to remain mobile and carer assistance with everyday living – including lifting between a chair, bed, toilet, car and bath.

Having been diagnosed with multiple health conditions of her own however, including rheumatoid spondylitis, 63-year-old Karen was no longer able to maintain the physical and mental demands of caring for Karis full-time.

Advertisement | Continue story below

Determined to ensure Karis could remain with her family, older sister Johanna and her partner Wil stepped up to provide a home for Karis, however, with her house being inaccessible, the situation was impossible.

With no solution in sight and the only alternative being to move Karis into care which filled the family with dread, Karen contacted DIY SOS with a desperate plea for help.

Moved by their story, Karen’s application sparked interest from the programme researchers and resulted in Johanna and Wil being given the opportunity to have her house converted, with a two-storey extension built 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 to ensure Karis could live as comfortably and independently as possible.

Answering the call, homelift supplier Stiltz and assisted bathing supplier Abacus moved quickly to donate valuable assistance and products for Karis and her family.

Following an assessment of Karis’ needs, Stiltz provided its next-generation Trio+ wheelchair-accessible homelift to the family, allowing direct access from the ground floor to Karis’ new apartment.

The access specialist worked closely with DIY SOS and local dealer Dolphin Lifts (Midlands) to install and commission the free-standing homelift within the tight timeframe.

Also prior to 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.

The company’s Scorpio 1700 bath with powered height adjustment and bather transfer seat was deemed most appropriate, eliminating the need for manual lifting and lowering of Karis and providing a safer, more enjoyable experience without risking back or muscle injury for Johanna and Wil.

According to Abacus, its design and technical teams were in regular contact with project managers during the contract to ensure all pre-installation works were completed according to the required specification.

The big reveal

Left speechless and in tears after being shown the results of the project, Karis and her family emotionally thanked all the companies and individuals that came together to transform their lives.

Witnessing the new homelift for the first time during the ‘Reveal day’, host Nick Knowles encouraged Karis to enter the lift car which she described as ‘magical’.

Stiltz BBC DIY SOS standing beside new homelift
Karis enjoys her maiden voyage in her new homelift. Pictured with mum Karen (centre), Stiltz’ Gino Farruggio (right) and Dolphin Lifts (Midlands) Steve Wilson (left)

“At the touch of a button and with a little bit of pixie dust, I’m elevated from the ground floor into my apartment without needing to be carried up the stairs,” she said.

“I feel like a princess riding in my own homelift, it is so heavenly.”

Johanna was equally as impressed, adding: “The lift has given Karis complete independence and is so much better than a stairlift which would have meant we still needed to help Karis. I also think people tend to relate stairlifts with elderly people which is just not right for Karis or our home. We are so grateful to Stiltz.”

Also overwhelmed with the new bath from Abacus, Johanna said: “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 was not pleasant for Karis. Now she can have a proper bath and feel completely clean.”

Abacus confirmed it will continue to support the family with servicing to ensure their Scorpio 1700 continues to provide vital safety and comfort in the bathroom over time.

“I always worry the help I need puts too much strain on my Mum, Sister and Wil. I kept saying to my Mum, ‘Am I making your illnesses worse?’ It’s a horrible feeling…now everything is different,” finished Karis.

“Using my Abacus bath for the first time was brilliant, I said ‘I am so happy to be having an actual bath, yeah!’ The seat will take me a bit of time to get used to as it’s different but I feel so much safer than being lifted, especially when wet. I kept crying so much on the reveal day about the bath and everything, it was so emotional.”

Join the 2,500+ mobility professionals who stay informed with THIIS' twice-weekly industry updates.
We respect your privacy
https://i1.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Abacus_DIYSOS_Lane_Nov19.jpg?fit=900%2C600&ssl=1https://i1.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Abacus_DIYSOS_Lane_Nov19.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Calvin BarnettNewsroomSupplier NewsTrade Newsabacus,access solutions,Asperger’s,BBC,Bromsgrove,Cerebral Palsy,DIY SOS,Dolphin Lifts (midlands),independent living,Johanna Lane,Karen Lane,Karis Lane,mobility products,Scorpio 1700,Stiltz,Trio+ Homelift,Turner SyndromeA number of companies in the industry have helped positively change the lives of an ambitious disabled student and her family by donating and installing a number of mobility, independent living and access solutions. Airing on the 20th November 2019, popular BBC TV programme DIY SOS set out to ensure...News, views & products for mobility, access and independent living professionals