A year and half before my injury I made the move back from South Africa, where I had lived for about 30 years, to settle back in the UK and join the rest of my family.

Along with my wife, daughter and her family, we shared quite a large house in what was a pretty comfortable set up. The intention was to eventually move to the Northampton area where we had quite a lot of family.  After retiring in South Africa, I had started a driving school with the idea to continue this venture when I got back to the UK, but that never got off the ground due to COVID-19.

In January 2020 I began to experience pain in my back. I was in the house at the time, when I made a slight, jerking movement. I managed to sit down but once I got down, I couldn’t get back up. By the time the ambulance arrived I had already passed out and didn’t wake up again until after my operation. It turned out to be an abscess on my spine that had burst.

Due to the restrictions put in place by COVID-19, my family were unable to visit for the entire time I was in hospital which added to my depression. I was transferred to a rehab facility, where at first I was being hoisted in and out of bed and into the wheelchair and assisted with showering. Visiting was still very limited during this time. Halfway through my stay, the staff were really pleased with how I was responding to rehab so my social worker began to shop around for a place for me to live, but so many options were just not adapted to wheelchair living – that’s how we came into contact with Aspire.  My daughter had registered us with the local council but without much success. It took a while to find somewhere so when Aspire came along it was a godsend. At the time, it happened that there were two properties available in Northampton, so my wife and daughter went to view them and settled on a bungalow in a really nice area.

James sitting in a chair

I went through a lot of ups and downs but with the assistance of psychologists at the rehab centre who helped me work through it, I came to realise that life doesn’t come to an end if you can’t walk. I started to feel more positive. I don’t know where I would’ve been without them.

I felt so lucky to have been given the opportunity to move into the Aspire house; it has allowed for a pretty comfortable transition into this part of my life.

I had mixed feelings when I began to get ready to leave the rehab centre. Although I had missed being around my family, at the same time I was very nervous as you get quite comfortable in rehab with the amount of support and attention you are given. However, after two or three weeks into my stay in the Aspire bungalow I had begun to be able to do things on my own. Although my wife was around, I had to get used to doing things independently. The facilities - such as the wetroom which is fully adapted - makes it easy for me to get around by myself. Most things were nearly identical to what I had experienced in rehab. I am able to get in and out of the bungalow by myself and take a ride to the nearby park.

I wanted to be able to do things for and by myself and the facilities in the house allow me to do that. In the rehab centre I was never able to prepare a meal but in the house I am able to do that and cook a meal for myself and my wife. 

We have been very, very happy here. It has been very successful from our point of view in helping me adapt to these new circumstances. It's been amazing that I have been able to get this level of quality of life and Aspire has given me that. 

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