On New Year’s Day 2010, 21-year old Philip Pain fell from his hotel balcony in Mexico. He was flown back to the UK early last year, and spent months in hospital going through his rehabilitation. When his stint in hospital was over and he was ready to get on with his life, he faced further setback – where he was going to live.
His Local Authority had nothing suitable for Philip as a wheelchair user and instead took the decision to put him into his local Holiday Inn whilst he waits for an accessible property to become available. Philip moved into the hotel on 10th December last year and two months on he’s still there. Whilst he has a roof over his head, the situation is far from ideal – he has no access to cooking facilities, friends and family obviously can’t stay over, and the temporary nature of the arrangement is going to make it that much harder for him to get on with his life.
What’s most shocking is that Philip’s situation is far from unique. Every 8 hours, someone in the UK is left paralysed following a spinal cord injury. Aspire research with three of the NHS’ Spinal Injury Centres shows that around a quarter of them will be discharged to a nursing home, hospital or hotel. Even those who go home often face huge accessibility issues, with many still waiting on essential adaptations to be carried out to their property long after they’ve moved back in.
Alex Rankin, Aspire’s Head of Services, knows just how difficult it can be for those faced with the prospect of living in unsuitable housing:
“There simply aren’t enough wheelchair accessible properties in the UK, and not enough are currently being built so the situation isn’t about to improve. Until that changes, far too many people will be denied the independence that most of us take for granted, simply because they haven’t got somewhere suitable to live.
“The temporary situation that Philip finds himself in is, unfortunately, all too common to us at Aspire. We regularly hear of people who have been in care homes and hotels for months on end, waiting for their Local Authority to find them something suitable. In the meantime, they find themselves in a sort of stasis at the very time they should be rebuilding their lives after a traumatic and life-changing injury. It’s incredibly frustrating for them, and for their families too, and many people have told us that their stays in such situations were by far the darkest time for them. Much more needs to be done to work towards a situation where no-one is discharged from hospital to accommodation that just isn’t right for them.”