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Vocational rehabilitation

What is vocational rehabilitation? Vocational rehabilitation is a process that enables those with a disability, health condition or impairment - be it functional, psychological, developmental, cognitive or emotional - to overcome barriers to employment or other useful occupation. At JSP we have been providing
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Dennis' story

Posted on: 21st January 2015

Now in his mid-60s, Dennis Shakesby has lived with a spinal injury for 5 years - the result of an infection in his spine in February 2009.

Dennis lives in Hull with his wife Christine. They have known each other for almost 40 years, becoming an item 12 years ago and finally tying the knot in August 2013 at Hull Guildhall. “The sun shone and it was a really good day,” says Dennis. Later in the year they had a delayed honeymoon in Tenerife – a place they have visited many times over the years.

Dennis likes to get out and about but was restricted by unsuitable equipment: a self-propelling wheelchair that was too heavy and required considerable effort on Dennis’ part to propel and manoeuvre around his home; and his powered wheelchair that was only suitable for level paved areas and had limited kerb climbing ability.

Getting the right equipment

The quality of Dennis' life changed quite dramatically however, following an equipment and adaptations assessment in May 2013 to see what changes could be made to improve his mobility and home life.

Dennis was encouraged to undertake a driving assessment and it wasn't long before he was being assisted to choose a vehicle that he could both drive himself or travel in as a passenger and which could accommodate his two new wheelchairs - a lighter weight self propelling chair and a powered chair that enables him to access all areas of the community whatever the terrain.

He now travels independently and much more comfortably in his own vehicle without having to rely on his family and taxis for help. He goes to the gym twice a week, has physiotherapy every Tuesday, goes to all the Hull City home games and regularly plays snooker with friends.

Home adaptations

The Housing Association bungalow the couple rent doesn’t provide enough space for Dennis to move around easily or to store his equipment – and it’s too small to accommodate the carers they will need in the future. The occupational therapist who carried out the equipment and adaptations assessment assisted Dennis and Christine to find a more suitable property. Dennis was particularly hoping to find somewhere with a good-sized garden, where Christine and he can keep a greenhouse and have barbecues when weather permits.

They found a bungalow with lots of potential and put in a planning application for an annex to house Dennis’ bedroom, wet room and a conservatory. After adjusting their plans to meet the planning requirements and a 5 month wait, their plans have finally been approved. They hope to exchange contracts very soon and get the building work started. “My niece is coming to stay with us for Easter, so we hope to be moved in by March,” says Christine.

Dennis and Christine are planning a return to their honeymoon destination of Tenerife in September this year (or somewhere just as sunny) and hope also to visit to Christine’s niece in Paderborn, Germany in November, where they look forward to seeing the Christmas markets. Life is now full of possibilities and we wish them all the very best for the year ahead and send our thanks for allowing us to share their story so far.