GCIL Housing service registers a significant increase in numbers of disabled people in housing need.
In 2014/15 GCIL Housing successfully helped 120 people to be rehoused but were contacted by 271 new disabled clients during the same period. This means that at the end of the year GCIL had recorded a significant increase in the number of people registered on our Home2Fit Accessible Housing system, with 563 disabled clients on our waiting list for more accessible housing. Analysis of our complex cases showed that GCIL Housing resolved 35% of cases in less than 6 months, 26% in under a year and 39% of cases took over 12 months to resolve.
GCIL Housing utilises our highly experienced housing advice team, widely recognised as one of the best sources of disability housing expertise in Scotland, with state of the art IT resources (Home2Fit – Scotland’s Accessible Housing Register) to match disabled and older people in housing need to appropriate accommodation across all tenures. We have developed a close working relationship with over 30 Registered Social Landlords who regularly contact us for nominations.
Home2Fit also provides a way of housing, social work, health staff and information and advice providers working in a more co-ordinated way to help disabled people who wish, or have to move from one local authority area to another, a bit like a Scotland wide “dating” site but with people and housing! This facility to match across local authority boundaries is something that many housing registers do not do.
Research from across the UK consistently finds people waiting several years for suitable wheelchair accommodation. This is a supply and demand issue – In Scotland we just don’t build enough accessible houses and this requires action at both Local Authority and Government levels.
Case studies…..Ms W…
Ms W - After a stroke and four months in hospital Ms W was initially discharged back to a second floor inaccessible property in Glasgow which she had lived in since 1962 and bought through Right to Buy. She struggled with the access, could not manage stairs. After a fall she used her pendant alarm to get help and was readmitted to hospital through accident and emergency, before being discharged back to her inaccessible property for a second time.
GCIL Housing supported Ms W to look at all her housing options including Private Rented Sector and Social Rented Sector and buying a more accessible house since she was at the time an owner occupier. A number of factors including a lack of accessible homes to buy meant that Ms W decided that her best option was a social rented property. She selected a few areas where she had either family or friends. Our specialist housing adviser used their knowledge and our Home2Fit database to identify which social housing providers had properties in Ms W's chosen locations that met her needs for a two bedroom wheelchair accessible property and helped her complete 7 housing applications.
Ms W moved to a suitable property available from Rutherglen and Cambuslang HA in South Lanarkshire near her daughter. GCIL then helped supported Ms W to apply for a powered wheelchair from WestMARC at the Southern General Hospital which increased her independence and ability to get out and about. Ms W is delighted with her new home which is both accessible and safe for her to live independently.
This example highlights some key issues, firstly there can be no doubt that quality of life, health and life expectancy are all improved if people live in their own suitable, safe and sustainable homes.
Case Study - Mrs C…
Mrs C was admitted to the Victoria Infirmary in 2013 and had surgery for a stomach problem. Unfortunately there were complications and Mrs C was very ill and required continuous bed rest for several months. During this time her mobility deteriorated and she could not return to her home, a split level one bedroom flat, which she owns outright because she could not manage the 39 stairs to the entrance.
She was in hospital for over a year, recovering from the surgery, before being transferred to the Step Down Project in Darnley, for independent living rehabilitation.
Mrs C was then moved to a care home in Shawlands and now has a room on the first floor. There are two separate stair lifts to this floor and there are three stairs at the entrance door. Mrs C still has mobility difficulties and uses a walking frame. She is not involved in activities in the care home as most of the residents have some form of Dementia so she remains in her room and is very isolated.
Several housing applications were completed and an application was made to Southside Housing Association for a New Supply Shared Equity Flat. Mrs C viewed the flat and really liked it. The location was perfect as she has friends in the area and it was close to a bus stop.
The application was sent to the Scottish Government for approval but this was turned down as it was assumed Mrs C could sell her own flat and buy another property without any problems. This was not the case as Mrs C is 82 years old and as she is not at home at present, has limited access to telephone and no access to internet to search for a property. GCIL Housing continues to support Mrs C in her desire to return to the community….
Case Study - Mr W…..
Mr W is in the early stages of dementia. He is also diabetic, has a heart condition, a stroke, visual and hearing impairments and mobility problems. He had lived in a privately rented flat in Blackpool, but due to his health could no longer manage the steps. Local Social Work services placed him in a residential home which he really did not like. He wished to return to Scotland to be nearer family and friends.
Mr. W's family agreed that it would be better if he lived nearer to them, in Glasgow, so that they could support him. Mr W therefore moved into his son's 4th floor 3-apt property in Glasgow but he was unable to access either the bath or shower in the property.
Mr. W's family members were forced to take time off work to help him and accompany him to appointments etc. This put a lot of pressure on everyone concerned. Mr. W was visited by Social Work Services and offered a temporary care home placement until suitable accommodation became available. Mr. W refused this and applied to several sheltered housing providers in the North West of Glasgow including Maryhill Housing Assn, Queens Cross Housing Assn for a 2-apt ground floor sheltered property.
GCIL Housing helped identify other suitable housing providers and supported Mr W and his family with a number of additional housing applications.
However, the lack of suitable temporary accommodation for older disabled people in Glasgow meant that Mr. W reluctantly agreed to try an interim residential care placement on the basis that it was up to him whether or not he stayed there in the longer term. Mr. W spent a couple of weeks in a temporary placement in a Care Home. However, he was unable to settle there and has since moved back in to his son's property with additional care support but is still waiting for a suitable house to become available for him.
Mr. W would like to remain independent for as long as possible. He would like his own tenancy with appropriate support. Hopefully his current living situation can be maintained until appropriate accommodation becomes available.
GCIL Open Door Programme partnership with GHA continues in 2015/16.
GCIL are delighted to again be working in partnership with GHA to offer another 5 work experience placements to disabled people in 2015/16.
Housing is the cornerstone of independent living. With an accessible home many other life opportunities become available, for example social and recreational opportunities or the chance to take up employment.
Employment Case Study…
Imran was referred to the Open Door programme (An Employment programme offering a paid work experience placement for up to 50 weeks to disabled people) by the RNIB in June 2014. Imran felt the Open Door programme was his next step in his own development as he looked at an end goal of finding and sustaining a full time job.
Imran initially attended a number of employability training sessions to prepare him for future employment. These events involved developing a CV, completing application forms and preparing for future interviews. One of the sessions Imran attended was directly looking at a placement within GHA. This involved finding out if he was ready to work and also finding out what type of work he wanted to do. In July 2014 Imran successfully attended an interview for an Open Door placement at a local GHA office. On 25th August 2014 Imran started his placement with GHA Tenant Managed Homes providing admin support to the office team. A training plan was introduced and a number of reviews took place recording Imran’s excellent progress. As well as gaining office skills and confidence working in a busy environment Imran also attended a number of training opportunities within GHA and these included Fire Awareness, Health and Safety and Astra training. Imran was about to start a CIH Level 2 qualification in Housing when he was offered a full time job with RNIB as a Digital Skills Officer in March 2015.
Quotes from Imran:
"This placement with GHA has given me the skills and confidence to move on to another position, I learned so much working in a busy office and observing how people dealt with difficult situations. I hope my experiences will inspire others to take similar steps to find employment".
"The relationship between GCIL and GHA is part of the reason I feel the programme has been such a success, the GHA staff at the placement, from the managers to the housing officers, have been great and I couldn't have asked for a better group of people to work with. I was made to feel welcome from day one and it was really hard to say goodbye to everyone when I had to leave ".
Disability Charities express concern at the lack of a co-ordinated Accessible Housing Strategy in Scotland.
Leading disability organisations Capability Scotland, Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living, Scottish Disability Equality Forum, Inclusion Scotland and the Independent Living in Scotland project have written to the Scottish Government seeking a more co-ordinated approach to developing accessible housing in Scotland.
Although the groups welcome the development of the new Joint Housing Delivery Plan for Scotland and the innovations within it, they question whether the draft plan will in reality address the housing needs of disabled people, those with long-term conditions and older people in Scotland both now and in the future. The current estimated shortfall of accessible homes in Scotland is over 17,000 (‘Mind the Gap’, Horizon Housing, 2012), and growing.
Disability organisations would like to see specific actions to address the scarcity of accessible housing for disabled people and their families across all tenures, sizes, types and localities. The organisations are asking for an increase in investment for accessible housing and specific planning policy measures to increase the supply of accessible housing across Scotland.
Unless urgent action is taken disabled people will continue to be denied their basic human rights, to housing and family life. Research has shown that unsuitable housing has negative and cumulative impacts on health and well-being, employment, leisure and education, equal citizenship and participation, fairness and prosperity for some of Scotland’s most disadvantaged citizens.
Research published by Leonard Cheshire (March 2015) found that there was an ongoing impact and cost being borne by the NHS because of the lack of accessible housing. A survey of 1,000 Scottish GPs found in one month Scottish GPs spent in total the equivalent of 939 hours, or four and a half working months, dealing with disabled and older patients who have suffered preventable injuries or illnesses because they live in inaccessible homes.
96 per cent of Scottish GPs have patients with health problems related to inaccessible homes. The charity also found that three per cent of GPs total caseloads relate to inaccessible housing.
This could be costing £27.3 million every year. Leonard Cheshire Disability says the lack of ‘disabled-friendly’ homes in Scotland is placing 'intolerable pressure' on health and care services. The Royal College of General Practitioners support the findings. Source : http://www.leonardcheshire.org/hometruths
Proposed changes to the Building Regulations risk making future housing less suitable for the needs of older and disabled people in Scotland.
The Scottish Government Consultation “Better Regulation – Review of the Building Standards (Scotland) Regulations” includes proposals that will reduce the current standards of accessibility and adaptability of domestic dwellings.
The proposed changes seem at odds with the Scottish Government’s wider housing, health, wellbeing and social policy objectives. Campaigners are particularly concerned about the reduction of space available for ground floor toilets and future shower spaces.
The current regulations allow for a combined toilet and space for a shower of around 1900x2000. This is a useable size of toilet / shower room giving a variety of options to position the toilet, shower or if necessary a bath (see below).
Diagram 1 – existing regulations possible layout for toilet and shower space (1900x2000).
Diagram 2 – existing regulations possible layout for toilet and bath space combination (1900x2000).
The Building Standards Agency under pressure from house builders and the construction industry to reduce red tape and bureaucracy are suggesting decreasing the space provided for the toilet and future shower space to 1250x1800.
A typical possible layout in this limited amount of space could look like this.
Diagram 3 – a small toilet and shower as proposed by the Better Regulation consultation document (1250x1800).
GCIL believes that this proposal is unworkable. Positioning the future shower space in front of the toilet to save space would be a potential tripping hazard to older and disabled people. In addition some older people with Dementia may find the change in colour / gradient acts as a barrier preventing them from using the facility.
The proposed changes will make Scotland’s new housing (for sale) less accessible and more expensive to adapt as the above case studies illustrate. Elderly owner occupiers who become ill or less mobile will find it more difficult to find a property to buy which meets their needs, and may be forced out of their chosen tenure of ownership into the social rented sector placing additional pressure on the waiting lists of housing associations across Scotland. In addition, a lack of easily adaptable housing for sale or in the private rented sector will also impact negatively on delayed discharge and potentially increase the numbers of older people being admitted to institutional care.
Many disability organisations in Scotland believe that although the proposed changes would create a short term micro-economic gain for the builders and construction industry it will be at the expense of slowing progress in generating enough properties to meet the needs of Scotland’s older and disabled citizens. The negative impact will be felt in all sectors and for all household types – at a time when Scotland desperately needs more accommodation flexible enough in design to cope with the loss of physical function inevitable in an ageing population.
Grant Carson Director Employment and Housing Services said “It would be counter-productive to implement changes to technical guidance to produce an estimated, and arguable, one-off cost saving of around £1,000 per unit (less than £20 per annum over the estimated 60 year life of a dwelling). The real cost of this will not be a saving – it will be an increase in costs to individual home owners, Scottish Government, the National Health Service and Local Authority social services who will be responsible for the ongoing adaptation costs, delayed discharge costs and increased care home costs as the unintended consequences of these changes..”
Instead of removing the space for future shower/bathing facilities the Scottish Government should issue additional guidance to help builders and developers build houses which meet the intention of the original 2007 policy changes, to build more accessible homes which meet’s the needs of Scotland’s older and disabled citizens.
Local Authorities also have an important role to play, they are responsible for monitoring and verifying that new houses meet the standards and they should be ensuring all new houses meet needs of older and disabled people living in their areas now and in the future. If there is a problem with lack of consistency in the way housing is being built across Scotland this is a regulatory failure and better guidance, training and verification are required to solve the problem, not taking away essential space to meet future needs.”
For more information please contact
Grant Carson, GCIL.
0141 550 4455
Blackwood Design Awards 2015
One of Scotland’s leading providers of housing and social care, Blackwood is dedicated to enabling people with disabilities throughout the country to live life to the full. From experience we know just how big a difference innovation and technology can make in improving people’s independence.
The Blackwood Design Award 2015
Now in its third year, the Blackwood Design Awards has in the past uncovered brilliant and innovative designs that have received huge acclaim and gone on to achieve great success. Could your design be the next winner? We are looking for an idea which:
- Is innovative and original
- Has the potential to change lives
- Will enable people to live more independently
Entries can be as high or low tech as you want. What’s important is that they have the potential to really make a difference to someone who has a disability. All entries are welcome from state of the art hardware, to adapted clothing, to computer programmes and 3D printed adaptations. You can enter even if your design is not yet fully developed or at a theoretical stage (although the more work you have done on it the more chance you have of impressing the judges). The winner will receive a prize package that includes prize money and support from Blackwood and its partners to carry their design further.
How to enter
Click here to download the entry form. This should be completed and sent to email@example.com; no later than 20th June 2015. You should receive confirmation of receipt within two to three working days.
If your entry is selected as one of the finalists, you will be asked to make a final pitch to our judging panel via Skype and answer their questions. This will give you the opportunity to talk about your design in greater detail. A date will be confirmed nearer the time.
If you are unsure about any aspects of the competition or have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
NB Please be aware that bespoken is an open forum so if you need to protect the IP for any aspect of your design then you should do this in advance.