Aspire’s core Services provide the practical support that can be needed by the 1200 people per year who sustain spinal cord injuries.
The services Aspire offer cover a range of areas and are available to new patients in the NHS Spinal Cord Injury Centres, to those who have just been discharged from hospital and to people who have been living with their injury for years. But whilst they are different in what they do, they all have the same goal – to help take someone from injury to independence.
Aspire’s Human Needs Fundgives grants to people to help them buy the specialist equipment they need to live a more independent life. Specialist equipment can be expensive and beyond the reach of many. And a shortfall in NHS provision of equipment, such as adequate wheelchairs, remains one of the biggest obstacles facing people with spinal cord injuries. Aspire is campaigning to end this shortfall but, in the meantime, the Human Needs Fund is our response to the problem. The Fund has helped hundreds of people get the equipment they so desperately needed, from lightweight and powered wheelchairs to electronic page turners and assistive computer technology. The difference this equipment has made to their lives is immeasurable.
Their Housing Programmeprovides fully accessible properties around the UK that can be used on a short-term basis whilst someone is adapting their own property or hunting for a permanent home. It’s no surprise that for those who are newly injured, where they are going to live when they get out of hospital is a major worry. All too often, they’ll find themselves discharged to somewhere totally unsuitable – an unadapted house or a care home, for example. Such situations rob people of their independence at a time when they should be ready to rebuild their lives.
The Aspire Housing Programme offers an alternative. Aspire properties are located around the UK and are used on a short-term basis whilst a permanent housing solution is found. It might be that someone’s own property is being adapted, or that they are waiting on their local authority to find them something suitable.
The Aspire Independent Living Advisors work in the Spinal Cord Injury Centres, providing advice and guidance to the patients and ensuring they get the support and services they need. Patients in a Spinal Injury Centre are given a lot of information by the NHS staff. It’s all essential, but it’s also obviously a lot to absorb in a relatively short space of time. On top of that, patients invariably have lots of other questions and issues that generally aren’t covered during rehab, from how to go about going on holiday again to what it’s like returning to work after a lengthy time in hospital. Aspire’s Advisors work closely with the NHS teams to ensure the patients’ questions are answered, often signposting them on to other organisations or working through solutions with the individuals.
Aspire also provideAssistive Technology facilities in the Spinal Centres ensure that everyone, regardless of the level of their injury, has independent access to a computer. When you are in hospital, miles from home, having access to email and the internet is even more important, giving you the chance to keep in touch with loved ones and to stay connected with the outside world. But for those with limited or no hand movement, standard computer keyboards and mice are simply of no use. The specialist equipment provided by the Aspire Assistive Technology Programme means that anyone, regardless of the level of their injury, can independently use a computer.