Saturday, 7 December 2013

Property - Aspire and World Human Rights Day

Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.

What happens when someone cannot get back into their own home following a spinal cord injury?

Every eight hours, someone is paralysed by spinal cord injury. Imagine if you have steps going into your home, or live somewhere with narrow corridors and no turning spaces. You might have a home, but you may not be able to access it. Your right of owning that property remains, but it can be agonising not being able to get into it.

Our research shows that
20% of people with Spinal Cord Injury are discharged to nursing homes. Often this is because of the lack of accessible housing available. Increasingly, Aspire is finding that people are unable to go back to their own place because care policies are becoming restrictive when it comes to delivering in people’s own homes. Some Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) as well as one local authority we are aware of, have set a cap on the amount that they are willing to spend on delivering care in people’s own homes. In such cases, an arbitrary percentage has been identified where if the cost of delivering care at home is above this percentage compared to receiving this care in a nursing or residential setting, the CCG or council will not meet the costs.

Essentially, this removes the individual’s whole lifestyle, family needs, work needs and places greater emphasis and importance in decision making on short term costs. Often this doesn’t recognise that the long term cost implications are far worse. The physical and psychological impact on people with Spinal Cord Injuries can be devastating as our research has found.

What’s more, people may have access to their property but cannot get to all areas of it. 37% are discharged to unsuitable housing meaning that they may well be in their own home, but not necessarily living in a way that encourages independence. They may not be able to access their own bedroom so are forced to live downstairs. This can be a horrible experience if your bathroom is also upstairs.

Through one of our surveys, a Spinal Cord Injured person in Cornwall told us, "I have no life as such. I live in one room. I can't get out." The psychological impact in living in these circumstances is damaging.

The Disabled Facilities Grant is key to helping people to adapt their own homes. However, it is a pot of money that is no longer ring fenced. At a time when funding for local councils is being heavily cut by the government it can be tempting to also reduce spend on adaptations.

If we are to recognise this Human Right for disabled people, we need more accessible housing and a better and more efficient Disabled Facilities Grant process. This would go a long way to fulfil the potential of disabled peoples’ rights to property.

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