Rachel and Andy Smith have been blessed with 3 children, Connie (7), Isaac (3) and Violet (1). For several years after she was born they enjoyed being a little family and then decided that it was time to give Connie a brother or sister. After a completely normal pregnancy, and with a caesarean section booked for 2 days following, early one morning Rachel woke up in agony. When Andy found her she was unable to speak through the pain and, terrified, they rushed to hospital. It was found that the placenta had come away from the lining of Rachel’s womb and that their unborn child was almost definitely being starved of oxygen. An emergency C-section was immediately performed and Isaac was born and sent straight to the Neonatal Unit. Terrified for his wife and new-born son, Andy waited helpless as the medical team worked to save Rachel’s life. Thankfully Rachel survived. It was only later that Andy was told he had been within 5 minutes of losing both Rachel and Isaac.

In the days and weeks that followed Rachel and Andy were to learn the extent of Isaac’s brain injury which is extensive and life limiting. He has Spastic Quadriplegia, a severe form of Cerebral Palsy and cannot do anything for himself. Andy and Rachel have not been able to regularly share a bed for 3 years as one of them must be available at all times to care for Isaac who sleeps fitfully in a hospital bed in the family living room. Isaac cannot eat (he is fed through a tube in his stomach), walk, talk or move independently and is blind. These are symptoms that will not change over the course of time.

In spite of Isaac’s condition, Rachel and Andy decided that they would have a third child and Violet was born a year ago. Connie copes remarkably well with the demands placed on the whole family by Isaac’s condition, but Rachel and Andy felt that it would be good for Connie to have another sibling for support and companionship. Connie is a bright little girl whose favourite subject at school is Maths, but there is no doubt that the situation at home is having an impact on her childhood. Isaac’s needs understandably must come first, but this can of course result in Connie missing out.

The Build

The most important thing DIY SOS can give the Smith family in order to make this house work for them is space, using free tools and equipment hire provided by HSS. They plan to add a single storey extension to the rear of the house which will house an accessible bedroom and wet-room for Isaac, including space for a carer to sleep overnight when possible giving Rachel and Andy some much needed time together and meaning that Isaac no longer has to sleep on a hospital bed in the living room. They also intend to make the whole ground floor of the house wheelchair accessible, ensuring that Isaac can be a part of family life as he should be, but also that his needs don’t overcome the needs of his parents and sisters. They will also renovate the rest of the house allowing Rachel and Andy the space to be a couple and Connie and Violet the space to play, grow and develop in a house that belongs equally to all of them. Finally, the garden will be landscaped and turned in to a peaceful haven that the whole family can enjoy together.

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