We are all TABs (Temporarily Able Bodied) As we get older we are likely to have mobility problems; almost 1 in 2 people over 65 in the UK could be considered to have a disability. But we are not building houses that will meet the needs of an aging population. Three-quarters of people with mobility problems are unsuitably housed, with five million now needing disabled-friendly homes.
Leonard Cheshire Disability, a leading charity, is calling for all new homes to be built with wider doors and walls strong enough to take grab-rails.
Leonard Cheshire Disability claims that as many as five million people now need a disabled-friendly home, a number set to rise as the population ages. A survey for the charity’s Home Truths campaign finds that almost three-quarters of people with mobility problems do not have an accessible door into their building. More than half say their buildings do not have doors and hallways wide enough for a wheelchair.
The report cites the example of Sue Frier, a wheelchair user. Unable to get upstairs, she has been confined to the ground floor of her house, sleeping in her lounge and washing at her kitchen sink. Once a week she pays to have a bath at a Leonard Cheshire care home. She cannot use her garden because her housing association refuses to provide a ramp.
“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,” said Clare Pelham, the charity’s chief executive. Of those people with mobility problems, 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”, with wider doors and walls strong enough to take grab-rails. It also wants 10% of all new homes to have full wheelchair accessibility standards and 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 disabled people in the UK has risen from 10.1 million in 2003 to 12.2 million in 2013. There are currently around 1.2 million wheelchair users in the UK, a number is expected to increase.
A recent report by Habinteg and South Bank University estimated that there was an unmet housing need for wheelchair users in England of almost 80,000 homes.
Does the emphasis on provision for wheelchair users – who are less than 8 per cent of disabled people. – discriminate against others with a disability. (The majority of impairments are not visible) Click here for more numerical information about people with disabilities in the UK.
What are your views? Have you experience or known about abuse of the system? What would improve provision for all disabled people and minimise abuse?
For example, were there too many spaces allocated for disabled people allocated for the football world cup, so that those paces could never have been filled and police understand that some fans who bought tickets on the black market may have taken wheelchairs in order to get around normal security to enter the stadium. Do you think that these tickets were spare – or were people who really needed them being deprived of the opportunity to attend?
Amid the mad scramble for tickets, some are believed to have acquired concession passes intended for disabled fans. Police will now investigate whether the fans with wheelchairs in the disabled section did indeed require the assistance and have legitimate passes for the area.. Given that the requirement for a wheelchair does not always mean that an individual depends on its assistance all the time, it is a sensitive issue and one which officials are having to probe fully.
In the UK there is a legally government laid down ratio of normal car parking spaces to the minimum required number of disabled spaces provided. The minimum number is 2 marked disabled parking bays or 6% of the total number of bay must be reserved for marked out for disabled parking. Up to 34 bay the requirement is 2 disabled, above 34 bays 6% of the total number of bays must be marked disabled. Is this too many, about right or too few? Should elderly or infirm people, who are unlikely to be classified as disabled be able to use those spaces?
The Daily Mail says ‘Hundreds of thousands of prime parking spaces in shopping centres are unused because of a legal obligation to provide four times as many disabled bays than are actually needed.Supermarkets, shopping centres and leisure centres must allocate up to 6 per cent of their parking bays for disabled badge holders – even though just 1.4 per cent of the population is registered disabled’
Does this mean that non-disabled drivers are more likely to use the spaces as they always seem to be empty?
And what about provision in your country? Are parking spaces or other spaces allocated soley for disabled people? If so, how do people qualify to use them? What provision is made in places of entertainment, public buildings or public transport? How is provision protected for disabled people?