photograph of James and Morgan in an incubator, one month old

James on the left, Morgan on the right: incubator transport

Q: What were you looking for in the new home?

A: As with any house purchase, some things were non-negotiable and others were nice-to-have! The non-negotiables:

  • Privacy*. This essentially meant a separate “wing” or annex for Mo, where sound doesn’t travel too much into the main house. Morgan can be quite noisy, at any time of the day! This also means that he can enjoy things like music therapy without worrying about the impact on anyone else.
  • Space* for Mo: Morgan needs enough room for his hospital bed, specialist bath, wheelchairs, disability equipment & toys, medicines and other supplies.
  • Space* for the family: over the last decade, there has been very little opportunity for a social life. We are hoping we will be able to have friends and family round for a meal - or maybe even to stay overnight.
  • Proximity to essential services: hospital, school, GP & pharmacy are all regular, essential parts of Morgan’s life. Further, Morgan’s care package is postcode dependent, so moving out of the area was not an option. It had to be in/near Chester.
  • Tranquility: we’ve come to realise that some measure of tranquility is essential for our mental health and the wellbeing of the whole family.

*Privacy and space were the main reasons for moving.

The nice-to-haves:

  • A garden! We love to have a garden for everyone to enjoy - especially Sharon, for whom gardening is the best therapy. We have been extremely blessed in our previous house, with a large and beautiful garden and we didn’t expect to have the same again. The new house has a decent size garden, which is certainly large enough to enjoy and maybe have the occasional barbecue, British weather permitting!
  • Space for music: Sharon and Rob are both musicians and the boys love music. Morgan particularly appreciates live music. We think we will now have enough room for music therapy in the home!
  • Parking: at any one time, we might need to accommodate six or more vehicles - ours, Morgans carers’ & therapists and visitors. We prefer not to be a complete nuisance to our neighbours! We can fit four or five cars on the new drive.

Q: What about DIY SOS?

We were asked this quite a few times and love the fact that people thought of us for this show. Unfortunately, the DIY SOS application form said, “we can only accept applications from UK homeowners of private residences who own one single property” [emphasis added]. This didn’t fit our circumstances because we did not yet own the house that would need to be adapted.

Q: Couldn’t you extend your existing house?

A: We looked closely at this and had even gone as far as having plans drawn up, a few years ago. We reluctantly concluded that although we loved our home, there was no way to make it work by extending.

Q: Chester seems expensive. Couldn’t you move somewhere cheaper?

A: We considered this, but there are many things anchoring us to Chester, from the boys’ school to the specialist medical professionals involved in all aspects of Mo’s care.

Q: Why did you need so much space?

A: Imagine a box big enough for eight footballs. Then imagine receiving eight or so such boxes every month. That’s the kind of volume of storage we need just for Morgan’s feeding supplies (bottles of his specialised formula milk, flexible containers, tubing, etc.). Then there’s all Morgan’s medicine. 20+ prescriptions. His medicine cabinet looks like a pharmacy!

photograph of a feeding pump and stand

a feeding pump, with flexitainer and giving set attached

Add to that two large wheelchairs. Maintaining wheelchair access means reducing available space in any room through which the chairs pass. It’s a kind of corridor effect.

Continence products - pads, wet & dry wipes, sacks, etc., take up a huge amount of space. By a similar token, Mo needs more outfits/changes of clothes than most people.

He has a specialised sleep system, to keep him comfortable in bed. Some of his sensory toys are bulky.

Morgan’s living space also has to accommodate the needs of his NHS carers. Although it’s his home, it’s their workplace. So this includes things like fridge space for their food, somewhere for them to sit, space for the manuals and documentation they maintain as part of their role and so on. Similarly, they need somewhere to park. And given that Morgan receives night care, it’s preferable that the parking is quite near the house.

The list is endless…