Man sitting on a bathtub.

When Lorie and Walter bought their 1,000-square-foot home in Port Alberni 13 years ago, they longed to retrofit its unfinished basement to accommodate Walter’s changing needs as his muscular dystrophy advanced. “The basement was a black hole when we moved in,” recalled Walter. Through funding from BC Rebate for Accessible Home Adaptations (BCRAHA) (previously known as Home Adaptations for Independence or HAFI), the couple were able to work with a contractor to transform the space.

BCRAHA provides financial assistance of up to $20,000 per home to help pay for home renovations for eligible low income seniors and people with disabilities in BC. Eligible renovations include handrails in a hallway or stairway, widening walkways and doorways, providing ramps for ease of access, and installing easy to reach work and storage areas in the kitchen.

Walter and his contractor removed a wall between the bathroom and an adjacent pantry to create space for a wheel-in shower with benches, installed grab bars and relocated vanity and fixtures. “After 12 years of skimping and saving, we had made the downstairs completely wheelchair accessible, except for the bathroom. It was way too small. I could only stand for about a minute and a half without collapsing in the shower stall and I could no longer pull myself out of the tub in the upstairs’ bathroom, even with Lorie’s help. I just slide into the shower now,” said Walter. “It’s such a delight. I feel safer and no longer dread trying to wash myself. What was previously a dangerous chore for me is now a welcome treat.”

Walter and Lorie hope to spend the rest of their lives in their home. Walter credits the BCRAHA program for forward thinking: a small capital investment has enabled a higher level of self-care that in turn will lessen his need to utilize the health system in the future.

More info about BCRAHA and help with your application: phone 604-433-2218 or 1-800-257-7756. You can also visit their website here.