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Inappropriate housing causing disabled ‘emotional and mental distress’

Disabled people are experiencing ’emotional and mental distress’ due to a lack of suitable accommodation, housing experts have warned.

It follows the publication of an 18-month long study led by researchers at the University of Stirling, Housing Options Scotland and Horizon Housing Association, which looked at the effectiveness of accessible and adapted social housing in Scotland.

Researchers interviewed 28 disabled people looking for a home in three local authority areas. The majority said they’ve received inappropriate housing offers, or no offers at all, during the course of the study.

University of Stirling researchers Dianne Theakstone and Julia Lawrence adopted a ‘co-production’ approach which ensured disabled people were closely involved throughout the study.

During interviews with researchers, one participant seeking a more suitable home described how, even with a stair-lift installed in her current accommodation, she had to make eight transfers between chair, wheelchair, stair-lift and toilet – and back again – in order to use the bathroom.

The study was supported by a research grant from the Disability Research into Independent Living and Learning (DRILL) programme, and also uncovered evidence that the assessment of the suitability of a property should not only consider the access and internal features of the home, but should also look at the accessibility of the external environment and the opportunities for the applicant to maintain local support networks.

Professor Isobel Anderson, who led the research team, said: ‘Disabled people’s extended lived experience of inappropriate housing, while waiting for a more accessible home, clearly causes considerable physical and mental harm.

‘The key findings highlighted a proactive approach from local housing providers, yet distance between their aspirations and the experiences of disabled people.

‘Disabled people and their families should have equal housing opportunities and the right to an accessible home in the community that ensures and protects their human rights.

‘This academically rigorous report gives all stakeholders the opportunity and evidence to shape lettings policy and practice to optimise effectiveness in matching disabled people to suitable homes, as well as increasing our stock of accessible housing.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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