When homes hurt

27 February 2015

Ciaran Osborneby Ciaran Osborne

Today we've published new research into what happens when disabled people are forced to live in homes that don't meet their needs.

In many ways, it confirms what we already know: the lack of disabled-friendly homes hurts. It hurts disabled people, and it hurts the NHS and local councils too.

Since we launched our Home Truths campaign last year, hundreds of disabled people have come forward to tell us what living in an unsuitable home means for them.

  • Sue has had more than 45 transfer falls over the last two years, because she simply cannot move around her home safely.
  • Stacie, who has leukaemia, is left exhausted and at risk of injury every day because she has to carry her disabled daughter, May who is 5, up two flights of stairs to get her into bed.
  • Sally’s mental health is suffering because she is trapped living in one room, with a leaky toilet, because she cannot get around her own home. Read her story in the report.

And these individual stories add up.

According to our poll, GPs across the UK spend the equivalent of 15,000 hours every month dealing with problems caused by inaccessible homes.

That’s 75,000 appointments, or more than six years of doctors’ time, every single month.

Even worse, we estimate that inaccessible homes will cost the NHS £300m this year alone, and they will cost local councils an extra £150m in care costs.

That’s £450m that could be spent on adaptations so people like Sue can live safely, or on new disabled-friendly homes so that people like Stacie can concentrate on beating cancer, not worrying whether she and May will fall on the stairs.

This scandal needs to end now — for the sake of disabled people everywhere, for the sake of everyone who receives care from their council, and for the sake of the cash-strapped NHS.

All political parties must commit now to building all new homes to Lifetime Homes standards, and 10% to fully wheelchair accessible standards. Otherwise the human and monetary cost of this crisis will continue to rise.

Ciaran Osborne is Leonard Cheshire Disability's policy and research manager. You can take action by signing Sue's petition now.



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