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Disabled couple from Edgware told they didn't fit criteria for Barnet Homes housing register
A disabled couple whose home has become an “obstacle course of medical equipment” are struggling to get rehoused to a bigger property.
Steven and Elaine Symmonds, of Rose Way, Edgware, have been unable to get on the Barnet Homes housing list after an officer told them they did not meet its criteria.
Mrs Symmonds, 60, has a severe form of muscular dystrophy which leaves her unable to move and open her eyes so uses a wheelchair - but an electric one would give her more independence.
And while the couple have found a charity willing to provide one for free, they have been told their current bungalow is too small to accommodate it.
Her husband has a condition similar to multiple sclerosis as well as a heart problem, and says the complex medical equipment they need to survive makes their living area far too cramped.
The 65-year-old said: “It’s like playing musical chairs anytime Elaine wants to navigate through the house with her wheelchair. We can’t negotiate through it ourselves, it’s an obstacle course, there's so much medical equipment.
“She doesn’t have a good quality of life here and she gets very upset. It’s been incredibly stressful on both of us.
“It’s a disgrace. We were told we don’t fit the criteria to be eligible for housing - but we haven’t even had a proper assessment.”
The couple, who married in 1995, have lived in the flat, which is managed by housing association Habinteg, since 2001 - but it does not have any bigger properties available.
They were each diagnosed with their disabilities as children, and between them take more than 20 medications a day. Mr Symmonds also has high blood pressure which he says is exacerbated by his living conditions.
Their application for bigger housing was rejected even though they had supplied letters from their doctors saying their current property is having a detrimental impact on their health.
Both keep active by taking part in regular 1940s themed events, wheelchair dance sessions and history trips, and fear their social life would diminish if they moved to a care home.
Carers visit them during various points in the day, but without an electric wheelchair Mrs Symmonds is completely reliant on her husband, who uses crutches to get around.
He added: “It’s hard for me as it is, because all this is badly affecting my health too. We don’t want to move into a home, we love each other, we want to be together.
“We need a bigger flat which can be adapted, not just to our current needs, but our future ones too. I’d like Elaine to have some independence, give her a bit of dignity. She'll be left in a vegetative state if we keep living here.
“I’ve had to call the paramedics out a few times and it’s impossible for them to bring a stretcher through.
“We're trapped in a nightmare in our own homes.”
After the Times Series contacted Barnet Homes, the organisation said: “At the time of our last medical assessment of Mr and Mrs Symmonds’ health in July 2013, their current property was deemed suitable for their needs.
“It is already adapted for use of a wheelchair so they are not classified as being in housing need.
"Due to the high demand for social housing in Barnet, especially adapted properties, we are only able to prioritise people with the most urgent housing need.
“However, based on new medical information they have sent us, we are reassessing their housing needs.
“Our options service will conduct a home visit based on the results of the latest medical information they have provided.”
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