An evaluation of the work of the Walbrook disabled persons' housing service 1985-1988
A number of recent reports (for example, IPCS 1988, Griffiths 1988 and Beardshaw 1988) have served to highlight yet again the urgency of addressing the rights and needs of physically disabled people in respect of independence and full participation in society. The recent survey on the prevalence of disability among adults in Great Britain estimated that over 6 million people over the age of 16 years had some disability and of these about one third were in the five most severely disabled categories (OPCS, 1989, p.16). The prevalence of disability increases proportionately by age; for every thousand people aged between 60 and 69 years, 57 were in the five most severely disabled categories whereas for people aged between 70 and 79 this proportion increased to 125 per thousand and to 354 per thousand for people aged 80 years or more. This increasing frailty in old age coupled with the growing numbers of elderly people in the population will increase the demand for purpose-built or adapted housing accommodation. Whilst we have seemingly turned the corner and moved away from social policies, practices and philosophies which segregated people in institutions, we have yet to find ways of providing widespread and adequate community services which can enable disabled people and their families to improve their quality of life. Numerous studies, and disabled people themselves, have reported consistently that people continue to face barriers, hurdles and bureaucracy in their attempts to exercise choice and control over their preferred way of life and standard of living. As Fiedler put it in her recent report on housing and support services (1988) people with physical disabilities are still subject to a “lottery” system: “the amount and kind of help a disabled person receives is determined less by need than by chance”. Throughout the United Kingdom there have been varied attempts by local councils, health services, local authority social services and voluntary organisations to develop new and innovative services. In particular, there has, over recent years, been a growing recognition of the importance of housing to the achievement of independence and the ways and means by which homes can be adapted or constructed to eliminate environments which disable rather than enable. One such attempt to enable disabled people to remove the barriers to independent living is that of the Walbrook Housing Association based in Derbyshire who, in 1986, launched a three-year pilot project to provide a Disabled Persons’ Housing Service (DPHS). This study is a report on that service and the opinions and experiences of those people who have used it.
|Date of creation:||Feb 1991|
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