Sheila's Story: “Care & Repair was my last hope.”

Sheila’s in her late 40s, but lives alone and suffers from life limiting cancer, lupus and fibromyalgia. To make matters worse, her home in Flintshire is cold, damp and mouldy – the gutters are leaking and the doors rotten.

Sheila said, “Over the past 5-6 years I have been diagnosed with life-threatening conditions, Care & Repair was my last hope, and to ask for help was a big thing for me.”

Kathryn Massie, Caseworker at Care & Repair North East Wales, got on the case to support Sheila and get her home repaired and fit for living in. She said, “Sheila’s mother rang us in Sept 2021, seeing if we could help. It was going to be challenging because Sheila was so poorly, but no matter who comes to us we always try our best to help. It was especially difficult for Sheila as she had lost her father a few months before and her husband had left her when she was diagnosed with cancer.”

Kathryn supported Sheila on the phone to start with because it was during Covid. Sheila’s health meant that she was extremely vulnerable, particularly as she was undergoing chemotherapy treatment. However, Sheila and her mother requested a face-to-face visit. Kathryn said, “I was anxious about visiting her during Covid. But we go with what the client wants, and I made sure I had PPE and socially distanced. On my first visit I must have been there for 3 hours or so as we had so much to cover.”

On Kathryn’s visit, she discovered that Shelia had no heating, but just an old gas fire in her living room. Decent heating is essential to helping rid the house of damp, so Kathryn made a referral to Nest to install new gas central heating in the house.

To stop further water coming in and further damage, the gutters needed repairs. For this, Kathryn reached out to Flintshire County Council for a Property Repair Grant.

The rotten doors were beyond repair and after getting advice and quotes, Kathryn made applications for funding to cover the costs. Kathryn said, “Due to her age, because she is under 60, it was especially difficult getting funding because a lot of funds we couldn’t apply to.”

Images: Before and after of Sheila's shower. From a troublesome cubicle to a new wet room.

Yet, it wasn’t just keeping the house warm that Kathryn was concerned about. It became clear that due to Sheila’s poor mobility, she was struggling to step into the shower cubicle. Kathryn doubled down to find more funding for a new wet room.

As the work was completed, Sheila couldn’t believe the difference it made. She said, “Not living in a damp and mouldy house, with doors which keep me warm and reduce heating bills, and peace of mind knowing my home will not deteriorate, they are priceless.”

Kathryn’s hard work meant that Sheila was able to get:

  • New central heating installed – funded by Nest (a Welsh Government scheme)
  • The gutters fixed – funded by Flintshire County Council
  • The doors replaced – funded by two charities
  • A wet room in her bathroom – funded by various sources

The adaptation to the bathroom happened in June 2022 and was the final piece of work. It was crucial in allowing Sheila to take showers safely, as well as maintaining her dignity and independence. 

Sheila said: “In many ways, the work done has improved my life, both physically and mentally. I will never forget all the kindness you and the charities have given me.”

Looking back on the work, Kathryn said, “I think it was a really good outcome. The letter she wrote to us afterwards was lovely, and her mum was so grateful as well.”

 

To find out how Care & Repair can help you, please contact your local Care & Repair agency.

For the sake of confidentiality, names in this story have been changed.