Aim To evaluate housing provision for children with complex physical needs in an inner city.
Methods All community physiotherapists from an area serving around 65,000 children and young people, having a caseload of children with significant physical disability, were asked about any housing concerns impacting on education or safety.
Results 29 children aged 2–14 (median 6.5) years had significant problems with housing affecting wellbeing and safety.
Disabilities included; cerebral palsy (13), chromosomal (6), neuro-degenerative (3), neuro-metabolic (2), seizure disorder (2), spina bifida (2), acquired brain injury (1).
Housing issues identified were as follows; 20 properties with a wheelchair inaccessible front door, 13 had external, and 15 internal stairs, 11 properties where both bathroom and bedrooms were inaccessible, 10 bathrooms with inadequate space, 12 properties without space to move in a wheelchair or walker, and 10 with no space for equipment. These properties could not be adapted to fully meet the needs of the child and family.
Impact on families included; parents and carers (including pregnant mothers and grandparents) carrying children upstairs resulting in safety risk and back pain, difficulty leaving the house causing social isolation and missed education and an inability to use mobility aids in the home.
Issues were discussed with the Local Authority, and factors were identified relating to hospital discharge, temporary accommodation, social issues and lack of suitable local housing stock. Models of provision are discussed including the role of voluntary and private sectors.
Conclusion Many families with children with complex physical needs have inadequate housing resulting in social isolation, reduced access to education and safety concerns. Similar issues have been identified over many years nationwide (Beresford and Rhodes 2008).
This is likely to be an ongoing widespread problem affecting child and disability rights, related to old housing stock, issues of housing allocation and social factors. This must be evaluated and addressed as a matter of urgency through policy, interagency working and flexible models of service delivery.
Beresford and Rhodes 2008 https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/housing-and-disabled-children
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