Solar high level bath
Mar 21

New Homes ‘Should Be Built For All Ages’

Matthew

A poll carried out on behalf of the Centre for Ageing Better has found that 72 per cent of Brits believe all new homes that are built should be designed so that they’re suitable for people of all ages and abilities.z`

What’s more, almost half (48 per cent) of those questioned said that they don’t believe society does enough to support people to live safely and independently at home as they get older.

This comes after the English Housing Survey found that 93 per cent of homes in the UK fail to meet basic accessibility standards.

Among the features that people would like to see included in new homes are walk-in showers, handrails and level access entrance ways, the research found.

Dr Anna Dixon, chief executive for the Centre for Ageing Better, commented: “We are facing an accessible housing crisis, putting unnecessary pressure on individuals, families and public services. If we do nothing, this will only get worse.”

The survey also found that, among those over the age of 65, 45 per cent are worried about their abilities to bathe, cook and eat by themselves in the future, while 32 per cent worry about someone else in their household struggling with those tasks.

Last month, actress and disability campaigner Samantha Renke said that a lack of accessible housing is holding back people with disabilities.

Writing for the Metro, she said there was “nothing more dehumanising” than knowing you’re capable of looking after yourself but being put in an environment where that’s not possible.

Molly Bather
Feb 25

How To Stay Safe In The Bathroom As You Get Older

Matthew

As we get older our mobility can suffer and we can find everyday tasks like showering and using the bathroom a bit more challenging.

The good news is that there are a number of things you can do to make it easier and safer whether you’re in the shower or enjoying a soak in your bathtub.

Professor of occupational therapy at Spring College in the US Joan Simmons recently told Mass Appeal about some of the bathroom safety modifications you can make, as well as highlighting some good habits to get into.

For instance, she noted that if you’re finding it increasingly difficult to get in and out of a standard bath, you could replace this with an easy access shower or walk in bath.

Fitting grab bars around your bathroom to help you enter and exit the tub safely, as well as to help prevent you from falling, is also advisable.

In terms of developing good habits, Ms Simmons stressed the importance of taking your time and focusing on what you’re doing. Don’t allow things like a ringing phone to distract you as you’re getting out of the bath, for instance.

Making sure you have good lighting in your bathroom can also mean you see potential trip hazards and avoid them, while it’s important to simply minimise clutter that could cause you to fall. Clear up laundry and towels from the floor, for example, and make sure there aren’t any rugs or mats you could catch your foot on.

Ms Simmons also recommends sitting on a chair or the toilet when you’re drying yourself off and getting dressed to avoid having to balance as you put your clothes on.

According to a report published by the Centre for Ageing Better last year, just seven per cent of the UK’s homes currently meet accessibility needs, so making simple changes to your bathroom habits could make a big difference to your safety.

Sierra side entry walk in bath
Feb 19

Inaccessible Housing ‘Holding Back Those With Disabilities’

Matthew

More needs to be done to improve the UK’s housing stock and make it more accessible for those with disabilities.

That’s the opinion of Samantha Renke, an actress and disability campaigner who has experienced first-hand the difficulties that disabled people face when trying to have independent lives.

She wrote for the Metro that she spent years feeling as though she was trapped because she had to rely on her family and friends to help her with a range of tasks. Ms Renke has brittle bones and is a full-time wheelchair user.

Ms Renke stated: “For me there was nothing more dehumanising than knowing you are capable of being independent but your environment is disabling you.”

Last year she moved into a bespoke adapted apartment, that allows her to live independently. She explained that, since doing so, not only has she felt better in herself, but her family and particularly her mum, have benefited from not having to be her main carers.

Ms Renke argued that by providing more accessible housing, more disabled people of working age would be able to have jobs. She highlighted the fact that disabled people living in inaccessible housing are four times more likely to be unemployed than those in an adapted property.

Making changes, such as installing easy access showers, can be life changing if you have a disability.

And of course it’s not only in your own home that you can run into obstacles if you have a disability. One US wheelchair user highlighted some of the issues he encountered with public toilets in the UK on a recent visit, such as the lack of a table that is essential to enable him to use his specialist travel urinal.

Jan 25

Disabled US Vlogger Shines Light On UK Toilet Accessibility Issues

Matthew

While bringing accessibility to your own bathroom, whether that’s disability baths or grab rails, is one thing, outside of the safe space of your own home, it’s clear that the level of accessibility equipment can vary, making what is an essential process less than easy for many with disabilities.

While those in the UK may be used to the range of accessibility in public bathrooms, it becomes much clearer the limitations when an outsider is exposed to them. That’s the story that has come to light this week, as a wheelchair user and disability vlogger from the US was forced to endure inadequate facilities in a British train station.

Shane Burcaw, who has a muscle wasting disease and needs to use a travel urinal, posted the video on his social media channels, drawing the attention of major news outlets in the UK. It chronicles his struggle to use the device as the accessible bathroom at St Pancras International train station did not have a pull down table, forcing him to use it on the dirty floor.

The video of Shane and his girlfriend Hannah, which the couple describe themselves as ’embarrassing’ shows the struggle of trying to find a spot for him to use the device.

The lack of a table in adult accessibility bathrooms is a problem in the UK Shane says: “Not only is this a problem for me, but it’s a problem for people with or without disabilities who have children that need a changing table,” he said, reported the Daily Mail.

Despite this, he said that the couple were impressed by accessibility in the UK in general, rating it far higher than he experiences in the US.

Dec 14

Chores ‘Can Help Dementia Sufferers Maintain Their Identity’

Matthew

If your partner is suffering from dementia, it’s important that you still allow them to be involved in the day-to-day tasks associated with running a home.

This is the advice of Dr Gayle Madden, Admiral Nurse Professional and practice development facilitator, who offered some tips to couples who are dealing with a dementia diagnosis or who are living with dementia in an article for Dementia UK.

She explained that when one partner has dementia, it “impacts the balance in a couple’s relationship”. In many cases, each partner will have chores that they typically carry out, and it’s these activities that help give them “a sense or purpose and value”.

“When someone has dementia it’s critical that they retain their sense of purpose and value in the home,” Dr Madden stated. That means looking at ways to allow them to contribute, and to make both partners lives easier. She recommends finding ways of doing things together, so that both partners are contributing.

She suggests talking about the tasks that the person suffering with dementia would usually do, and finding out what level of involvement they still want to have.

You should also talk about any changes you need to make to your home, such as installing easy access showers to make areas like the bathroom safer and more accessible.

Last month, the Express offered some advice on how to make your home more dementia friendly. Top tips include putting photos of familiar faces and places around the home to help trigger memories, and ensuring there’s as much natural light as possible in the home.

This is because dementia can affect a person’s sense of time, and being able to see when it’s light or dark outside can help those suffering from dementia better judge the time of day.

Nov 29

Big Companies Urged To Be More Inclusive

Matthew

The minister for disabled people, health and work has called on big companies around the UK to reveal the numbers of disabled people they have on their payroll, with a new framework launched to encourage firms to report how many staff members have health conditions or disabilities.

Sarah Newton has confirmed that there will be 19 projects that will receive money as part of the £3.9 million Work and Health Challenge Fund to support those with disabilities and mental health conditions.

These projects are intended to enable people to stay in work by helping them to manage their conditions by themselves, while making it easier to access advice and support relating to what jobs they would be most suited to.

Ms Newton said: “Employers across the country this month have joined us in celebrating and promoting inclusive workforces as we mark Disability Confident’s anniversary – and embraced the hashtag #IAmConfident to empower people to talk openly about a disability or health condition.”

Approximately one-fifth of the working age population lives with a disability or health condition, with the latest employment figures showing that over half of disabled people are now in work – and almost one million more disabled people have joined the workplace in the last five years.

Government figures released this month (November 13th) revealed that there are now more disabled people in work than out of it, with three-quarters of the jobs created since 2010 being full-time permanent roles in higher skilled occupations. This means that earnings are typically higher as well, all part of the government’s Industrial Strategy to create better well-paying jobs fit for the future.

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Nov 14

Call Made For New Minister For Disabled Children & Families

Matthew

The call has been issued for the appointment of a new minister for disabled children and families in order to ensure that those with disabled children can take advantage of more robust joined-up support.

Charity Scope has launched its Now Is The Time campaign, calling on the government to lead the way on this issue, with 41 per cent of those asked with a disabled child under the age of five saying that they weren’t offered any emotional support either during or after diagnosis.

Not only that but research also shows that just 25 per cent of adults believe parents with a disabled child can have the same aspirations for their children as parents of a non-disabled child.

The new minister would provide businesses, charities, organisations, disabled families and members of the public with a focal point inside government. It would also enable the prime minister to show just how committed her government is to disabled children, while optimising the effectiveness of policy implementation.

Director of policy at the charity Anna Bird said: “Parents of disabled children are being let down by a system and a society that is working against them not for them. This needs to change.”

Further research from Scope shows that 49 per cent of disabled working age adults feel excluded from society, while 41 per cent say they don’t feel valued. And 42 per cent admitted that they don’t believe the UK to be a good place for disabled people.

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Nov 01

AI Project Could Help Improve Care For Those With Mobility Issues

Matthew

A project that plans to use artificial intelligence (AI) to improve care for people with mobility issues has been awarded £865,000 by Innovate UK.

Digital Health revealed that the consortium led by Cambridge Bio-Augmentation Systems (CBAS) is behind the programme, which intends to develop a machine learning system that’s able to analyse the movements of people who are at risk of falls or who have orthoses.

The aim is to monitor patients more closely and help healthcare professionals to gain a better understanding of their needs, as well as to help them more accurately track the progress of their patients.

Patients involved in trials of the technology will be given wearable items that track their movements and the data gathered will be analysed by an AI platform.

The results from the trial will be validated by the Human Performance Lab at Queen Mary University of London. Dr Aleksandra Birn-Jeffery, lecturer in bioengineering at the institution, told the news provider that this represents an “exciting opportunity”.

“Not only is it an exciting opportunity to validate new technology that could make such a difference to patient care pathways, but we will be working alongside some incredible companies that are all striving to improve healthcare,” she asserted.

Dr Birn-Jeffery added that it could lead to a greater understanding of how orthotics patients progress following treatment.

In some instances, it could highlight how making adaptations to your home could improve your quality of life, such as fitting easy access showers.

Given that a recent survey by Which? found that the majority of people over 55 years old would be happy to make such adaptations to their properties, it could be valuable in improving many people’s quality of life.

Liftseat
Oct 29

More Work Needed To Adapt UK Homes For Elderly Residents

Matthew

Just seven per cent of the UK’s homes meet basic accessibility needs, a new report has revealed.

Research conducted by the Centre for Ageing Better also pointed out that more than 90 per cent of people over the age of 65 live in mainstream housing, rather than specialist retirement properties, in the UK.

As a result, more needs to be done to make our homes suitable places to live as we age and mobility reduces, with the charity noting that “investment in adaptations is highly cost effective”.

Taking this approach is “helping to improve wellbeing, keep people out of hospital, prevent or delay moves into residential care, and reduce the need for carers”, the report added. To get the most benefit from home adaptations, installing them early on is essential.

Some of the key adaptations cited in the report include ones that allow people to move safely around their homes and reduce the risk of trips and falls, as well as those that enable them to look after their own personal care.

Adaptations falling under the latter category may include the likes of walk in baths, shower seats or easy access showers.

In addition to the benefits to people’s physical health, such home alterations can also improve people’s mental health by reducing the stress and anxiety associated with carrying out basic tasks in a home that’s not designed to support reduced mobility.

Earlier this year, Home Care reported that people with arthritis in particular are missing out on government funding to make home adaptations that could significantly improve their quality of life.

It cited findings from Arthritis Research UK, which revealed that as many as 80 per cent of arthritis sufferers are missing out on the support they’re eligible to receive because they don’t realise it’s available to them.

Oct 17

Passenger Assist App Launched By Network Rail

Matthew

Network Rail has launched a new Passenger Assist app in partnership with four train companies – West Midlands Railway, Greater Anglia, London Northeastern Railway and South Western Railway – designed to be more accessible and inclusive.

It’s intended to help make it easier for disabled people to travel, as well as less stressful and less likely to go wrong by allowing them to book help at stations. Accessible features like different text sizes and fonts, as well as colour themes, have also been included in the app.

Commenting, regional director at the Rail Delivery Group Robert Nisbet said: “We know we’ve got to do better to improve rail’s accessibility. We want everyone who has requested assistance to get the help they need, which is why we’re investing in this pioneering technology that has the needs of our customers at its heart.

“A few taps of the app will give customers more control, help our people do their jobs better, and deliver on the commitment in our long-term plan to enable more people to benefit from travelling by train.”

Writing for the Daily Express last month (September), 29-year-old journalist Hollie-Anne Brooks told of her own experiences of rail travel as someone with a disability. She explained that all over the UK passengers are left to face unhelpful staff members, “hellish” experiences of travel and missing ramps.

Greater Anglia even used her reserved disabled space for the coffee cart after its typical coach was left out of action. Ms Brooks went on to add that rail companies need to set out manifestos for disabled passengers to ensure they’re comfortable and safe.

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