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Inadequate housing affecting the lives of disabled children in the UK.

Last week, BBC Newsnight exposed the impact that inadequate housing can have on the quality of life of disabled children and their families.

An investigation has discovered that inadequate homes, that are not appropriately adapted or accessible, are having a negative impact on the day-to-day lives of children living with disabilities. A poll by charity, Contact received over 4,000 responses from families and discovered that many homes fail to meet the needs of their children, with some families even struggling to get out of their home as they have no level-access. Some parents also believe that the lack of accessibility is worsening their child’s condition and, in some cases, putting them at risk.

Some families are even faced with extended stays in hospital, until an appropriate home can be found, or their own home is adapted. Delayed hospital discharges cost the NHS £285million each year and up to 14% of these could be reduced by accessible housing.*

The Disabled Facilities Grant was designed to reduce the number of hospital and care admissions and speed up a person’s return home, to enable them to live as independently as possible. The grant, which is given by your local council can cover the costs of any work that may need to be carried out. If you or a loved is living with a disability, and would benefit from adaptations to your home, contact your local council to see if you are eligible.

In many cases, a property will need to be found that can be made safe, practical, and comfortable. A child’s occupational therapist and wider care team are often tasked with searching for an appropriate property that can accommodate the child’s needs. Our team at France + Associates can support this process and have an excellent track record for identifying suitable properties.

As part of our property finding service, we consider the suitability of a property and it’s location in both the immediate and long-term. We can often make subtle additions to future-proof a property, such as reinforced ceilings for hoists, and electrics and space for through-floor lifts, should they need to be added at a later date.

We recently adapted a home for our client, Steven. He lives in a bungalow with his family, he is wheelchair dependent and requires full time support from a team of carers. He first moved into the home as a child, which was adapted to accommodate his wheelchair and included a specialist bedroom, playroom, and small hydrotherapy pool.

As Steven grew, so did his wheelchair. We made several adaptations to the property, including covering the hydrotherapy pool, which Steven had outgrown, to create a therapy room and provide more storage stage for all his medical equipment.

Having an adapted, accessible home with ample space for specialist equipment also means children and young adults like Steven, can have continued rehabilitation and physiotherapy in their own home. By enabling children to have therapies at home, they are likely to engage better with the treatments and see improved outcomes. Obstacles that may impact therapy sessions, such as transport or childcare for other children in the family can also be removed.

You can read more about Steven’s home here.

 

Currently 10% of people in the UK are living with a disability, but only 1 in 10 homes in England have at least one adaptation. This could be level access, widened doorways or a ground floor bedroom and accessible bathroom. These adaptations can be made to most properties to make them safe, inclusive, and functional for the whole family.

The accessibility standards in homes, particularly in social housing need to be improved as we work towards transforming the current and future needs of all children living with disabilities.

 

* Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, 2021

+ Family Resources Survey 2019/20 & England Housing Survey 2018/19

 

 

 

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