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While some students prefer to continue living at home, for others living independently is an important part of the university experience. You may find you are offered a place in a student hall of residence for the first year and this can be a good way to get to know people.
Alternatively, you could look for private accommodation, which usually means sharing a flat or house, or renting a room as a lodger. University housing services usually have a housing database and can provide advice. Your Disabilities Adviser, if you have one, may be able to help ensure that the accommodation you are offered is suitable for your needs. If you do not have a Study Needs Agreement you will probably find it useful to have supporting evidence, such as a letter from your hospital or GP, when discussing your accommodation requirements. Some accommodation offices are able to prioritise requests for en suite facilities based on medical conditions.
Points you might like to think about and check could include the following:
Is the accommodation en suite? Many students with IBD feel this is essential. If you are expected to share, would this be acceptable to you? With shared bathrooms you might want to check how close the facilities are to your room, and how many other students would be using them.
Does the hall or block have its own laundry facilities, or if not, is there a launderette nearby?
How far is the accommodation from campus and how easy will it be to travel in to lectures and other student facilities? • Is it catered or self-catered accommodation? You may find it easier to have meals cooked for you, or, on the other hand, if you have to be careful about what you eat, you may prefer to do your own cooking. Some catered halls also have cooking facilities – would this be helpful?
Is there access to a fridge? If you have medications that have to be stored at a certain temperature, you could ask whether you would have easy access to a communal fridge, or could perhaps be provided with a smaller fridge in your room.
If you are living away from home you will need to register with the University Health Service or a local GP, which would mean a change of doctor. You should still be able to see your old GP during vacations if you complete a temporary registration form when you go back home.
Your new doctor will be sent your existing medical records so they should be aware of your condition. You may still feel it is worth making an appointment, even while you are well, to make sure they know what having IBD means for you. Building a good relationship with your new doctor can make it easier to get the support you need if you do have a flare-up.
It may be helpful to discuss your move with our IBD team before you leave for university – and to check with them who might be a good contact should you need access to specialist services once away from home. You could sort out with them, or with your home GP, a summary of your condition and a written plan of action to follow if you have a flare up.
Make sure you have a good supply of your medication with you, when you first leave home. If you are changing doctors, register with a new GP as soon as possible, so you can get a new prescription before your medication runs out.