Rehability cut the ribbon on new show-home to showcase modern adaptations in historic setting
Suffolk-based mobility retailer Rehability has cut the ribbon on its new Independent Living Centre less than two years after a devastating fire in December 2017 ravaged the 15th Century thatched barn.
Opened in November 2019 by the Rt Hon Thérèse Coffey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the Rehability show-home at Chediston, Halesworth, will now showcase the most modern home adaptations for elderly and disabled people in a centuries-old setting.
Veronica Downing, Director of Rehability and an occupational therapist with over 40 years’ experience, explained she was keen to demonstrate that disability or advancing years need not necessitate moving out of the family home.
“We want to show the possibilities that enable people to continue living in their own home as they get older or after accident or disability,” she said.
“Faced with the choice, most people with limited mobility or care needs would much prefer to stay in the home they know. With the range of smart equipment now available, home adaptation is often simple, and it’s almost always a far less costly option.”
Illustrating the wealth of equipment now available on the market to make access easier around the home, the Independent Living Centre boasts solutions designed to facilitate vital everyday tasks such as using the kitchen, bathing and toileting in a non-clinical environment or retail environment.
Rather than demonstrating the products in a shop or surgery, the Centre is set in the fully rebuilt timber-framed, Grade II listed barn, which has been fitted with a wide range of adaptations.
With a working kitchen designed for wheelchair access and a cottage-style bedroom with a height-adjustable profiling bed, the show-home also includes an adjoining bathroom featuring the latest assisted bathing system with integrated seat transfer and leg-lift facility, along with an accessible shower and washer-dryer toilet.
Additionally, the Rehability’s Independent Living Centre has a homelift to take visitors up to the first-floor living room.
With a significant amount of the building burned and damaged in the fire of December 2017, which had required 27 fire engines from Suffolk and two crews from Norfolk to tackle the blaze, owner Veronica described how the building has been considerately restored, with the mellow timberwork of the original 15th century structure sympathetically blended with new oak joinery throughout the barn.
Calling it “a must-see setting which combines tradition and modernity,” Rehability highlights that the new Independent Living Centre will complement its retail shop a short distance away in nearby Halesworth, providing a place where potential customers can see and try out small aids or larger equipment in the context of an actual living space.
In addition, professional assessments will be carried out by a qualified occupational therapist to ensure that the equipment a customer considers buying or installing is suited to their needs.
“We believe that it is a real asset for north east Suffolk, and that it will show how simple it is, with a bit of thought and ingenuity, to transform the lives of those who are struggling at home,” finished Veronica.
Rehability’s new Independent Living Centre is at Bridge Farm, Chediston, two miles west of Halesworth on the B1123.
The Rehability retail store is at 7 Bridge Street, Halesworth.