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Occupational therapists could advise on improving housing for disabled

Friday 27th April 2018
Housing for the disabled and elderly is widely unsuitable and needs to be addressed as soon as possible, a new report has said. Image: Antonio_Diaz via iStock
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A new report has found that disabled and elderly people in the UK are often being forced to live in unsuitable and potentially dangerous homes because of shortcomings in planning rules and dismissal by developers.
The document comes from the Equality and Human Rights Commission and was seen by the Telegraph in advance of its wider publication next month. It said only seven per cent of homes in England offer minimal accessibility features, which has led to a "severe shortage" of suitable properties for those with additional needs.
Councils were criticised for failing to build enough accessible homes to meet demand, as well as for not taking action against developers more concerned with profits than complying with regulations.
As a result, the report warned that disabled and elderly people are frequently stuck in hospitals after falls or illness because it is unsafe for them to be discharged, or even "eating, sleeping and bathing in one room" at home because their accommodation is inadequate for their needs.
The document stressed that at least ten per cent of any future housing needs to be built with the elderly or disabled in mind and urged local authorities to reduce the bureaucracy involved in adapting existing properties to suit them.
This may mean that recruitment is necessary for additional occupational therapy jobs if councils are to meet these targets. Those already in such roles could be required to assist on any suitable improvements.
Director of policy and public affairs at Independent Age George McNamara said: "This issue is only going to become more important as our population ages and people have a greater need for specialist housing that addresses all their health and care needs."
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government insisted that councils will be provided with nearly £1 billion over the next two years to adapt homes for disabled and older people and allow them to live safely and independently.
According to the Office for National Statistics, 18 per cent of people in the UK are aged 65 or over, with 2.3 per cent over 85.
This has meant that a growing concern for policymakers is healthy life expectancy - living longer, but without significant disability.

Written by Alex Franklin Stortford

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