HOMES have become houses of horrors for many thousands of disabled people who find it difficult to get through their own front door or use their own kitchens and bedrooms, says a leading charity.
A new housing report from Leonard Cheshire Disability highlights the lack of action to build more accessible homes, which is leaving many disabled and older people unable to live comfortably, as well as the low-cost changes that could be made.
The Hidden Housing Crisis report says that around three-quarters of people reporting mobility problems (72%) say that the door to their property is not accessible (for example, because it had steps or no ramp).
Around two thirds (63%) of people reporting mobility impairments say they do not have a bathroom large enough to cope with a wheelchair, and half say that they do not have stairs wide enough for a stair-lift to be fitted.
More than one in twenty (6%) say they find it very difficult to sleep in their own beds, because their bedrooms are out of reach.
Sue Frier, who uses a wheelchair, has been living in a two-storey house for two years. She said: “My life has become impossible. I have been unable to go upstairs for two years and have to be washed in the kitchen sink.
” If people come to visit they have to leave the house when I use the toilet as it has no door on so I can get my wheelchair in. I have been told I will have to wait years to get a disabled friendly home.”
* The charity is calling on all house-builders and political parties to commit to building more disabled-friendly homes and specifically:
* Make sure all new homes are easily adaptable, which costs only £1,000 extra per new home
* Build at least 10% of homes in new large developments to be fully wheelchair accessible, which costs £13,000 extra per new home
Clare Pelham, chief executive of Leonard Cheshire Disability, said: “It is truly shocking that in 2014 disabled people are living in conditions reminiscent of the Victorian era.
“A strip wash at a kitchen sink is something that belongs in a period drama not Britain today.
“This is a hidden housing crisis which we must tackle head on. Our report shows that instead of home being the haven it should be, many thousands of disabled people are shut out of their own kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms.
“We must make sure that the next generation of homes are built with the future in mind.
“For a very small investment today, we can make sure that the homes of tomorrow give disabled and older people freedom and comfort rather than despair.”
Backed by Leonard Cheshire Disability, Sue Frier has set up a petition asking Housing Ministers from all parties to meet her and see how the lack of disabled-friendly homes is making her life a misery.
The petition, being launched as part of the Home Truths campaign, is available at: www.leonardcheshire.org/hometruths