A new report from Leonard Cheshire Disability uncovers a ‘hidden housing crisis’ experienced by disabled people in Britain.
The report finds that many disabled people are living in accommodation which is ill-designed for their needs, meaning that in some cases, people cannot even access their bedrooms to sleep.
Leonard Cheshire Disability claims that around five million people require a disabled-friendly home, and this number is expected to rise due to our ageing population.
A survey carried about by the charity found that almost three-quarters of people with mobility problems do not have an accessible door into their building, and more than half say that their buildings do not have doors and hallways wide enough for a wheelchair.
Sue Frier, aged 52 and a wheelchair user, has experienced living in a home which does not suit her needs. Sue has been confined to the ground floor of her house, as she is unable to get up the stairs. She sleeps in her lounge, and washes in the kitchen sink. Sue cannot even access her garden, as her housing association refuses to provide a ramp. Once a week, she pays £30 to have a bath at a Leonard Cheshire care home.
Clare Pelham, Leonard Cheshire Disability’s chief executive, comments on the issue: “Not adapting homes condemns people to the misery of Victorian strip washes and ultimately possibly to leaving their homes and incurring massive care costs, when they would prefer to live independently.”
As well as Sue, the report also included a case study featuring Elizabeth, who has multiple sclerosis and is unable to use the stairs in her house, and was only able to move home after receiving advice from a solicitor.
Elizabeth said: “I waited nine years for suitable housing.
“Being washed in the kitchen is no fun.”
The report found that of those people with mobility issues, more than half say they find it difficult to sleep in their bedrooms, while one in five say they find it very difficult to use their stairs.
Leonard Cheshire Disability is calling for all new homes to be built to “Lifetime Homes Standards”, which includes wider doors, walls strong enough to take grab-rails, and for 10% of all news homes to have full wheelchair accessibility standards.
In addition, the charity has called for a commitment from all political parties that any new settlements, such as the planned garden cities, are built with disabled-friendly housing.
The number of wheelchair users in the UK is currently at 1.2 million and expected to rise, with an unmet housing need for wheelchair users in England of almost 80,000 homes.
With these staggering figures, it is clear that adapted housing which meets the requirements of disabled people must become a higher priority on the government agenda, as the demand for suitable housing is only going to increase over the years.
It is simply not acceptable that so many disabled people cannot easily access their homes and bedrooms, and this is an issue which must be exposed in order to increase awareness of this hidden housing crisis.
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Originally written by myself on http://www.dancinggiraffe.com/new-report-from-disability-charity-finds-disabled-people-in-britain-face-hidden-housing-crisis/