Inadequate housing for people with catastrophic injuriesApril 26, 2012
A recent study undertaken by ASPIRE shows that around 20% of young spinal cord injured patients are spending up to two years living in care homes for the elderly, leaving them feeling depressed and isolated, according to a new study.
Up to one in five of the 1,200 people in the UK paralysed each year are moved to a care home following rehabilitation while they wait for their existing homes to be renovated for wheelchair use or for suitable accommodation to be found.
Around 70 per cent of spinal cord injury patients are men and many are under 40 years old.
Dr Brett Smith of Loughborough University, carried out a study of spinal cord patients aged 24 years and over living in care homes and found a general lack of belonging, widespread depression, feelings of isolation, a loss of hope, suicidal thoughts and uncertainty of the future.
Alex Rankin, director of services at spinal injury charity, Aspire, which commissioned the study said: “The work by Dr Brett Smith and his team will go a long way in showing the full extent of the damage that is caused by placing people into unsuitable housing.
He added: “Every eight hours in the UK, someone is paralysed by spinal cord injury. There is no warning, no time to prepare, and no cure for the damage done. …. With so few properties in the UK being accessible to wheelchair users, it’s no surprise that many people find they cannot return to their own home when they leave hospital. Worryingly, every year, hundreds of people with spinal cord injuries are forced into totally inappropriate housing situations; robbing them of their independence at the very time they are trying to rebuild their lives.”
As a specialist clinical negligence and personal injury solicitor with a spinal cord injury, I recognise the vicious circle inadequate accommodation can create, not only for those with spinal injuries, but anyone who has sustained a serious head injury or amputation of a limb. Without an environment that is geared up for your unique needs, you will not be able to become fully independent and take on other aspects of having a healthy life such as a job or socialising. If you are spending all of your energy on coping with a less than adequate home, or indeed are trapped in the home or simply unable to gain access your home prior, this will impact on your ability to access all the other provisions you will need to benefit from rehabilitation fully.
This situation needs to be considered urgently by the government.
Follow Raquel Siganporia on Twitter: @SiganporiaRD