On Friday 17 May, the Spinal Injuries Association are celebrating Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day 2019. They’re recognising the remarkable achievements of the spinal cord injured (SCI) community – both SCI people themselves, as well as the legions of supporters, friends, families and healthcare professionals who work so hard to make a fulfilled life a reality for every SCI person.
This year their focus is ‘a place of my own’ and we’re looking at what ‘home’ means to not only those who are injured but everyone within the SCI community. They will share stories from SCI people who were finally able to return home after spending months in hospital away from their loved ones.
You’ll be able to read about the costly home adaptations that are required in order to enable injured people to live with their families, and hear from the healthcare professionals who work tirelessly to support them throughout their journeys as they return to living independent and fulfilled lives once again.
They will also highlight the challenges of finding accessible accommodation for those who are unable to return to their own homes, and the planning that is required to ensure that the care they need is in place to support them with their daily lives.
Getting home after injury isn’t as easy as many might think, with a staggering 20% of SCI people with Spinal Cord Injury being discharged into care homes with projected waiting times in many authorities extending into the decades. Based on the number of wheelchair users currently awaiting an accessible home and the number of wheelchair-accessible homes allocated, it will take an average of 51 years for the eight worst performing councils to rehouse everyone requiring an accessible home. Of these eight authorities, only two held information on the number of accessible homes built in their areas between 2017 and 2018.
And if that wasn’t enough, according to the EHRC, 66% of authorities that set planning targets for accessible homes don’t know what proportion of new homes completed meet accessibility standards.
To ensure that every SCI person has a place to call their own, they demand:
- National and local government to comply with Public Sector Equality Duty and ensure that disabled people including wheelchair users, have an equal chance of being rehoused in a home that meets their needs as non-disabled households.
- Governments in England, Scotland and Wales to take urgent action and introduce a national strategy to ensure there is an adequate supply of new houses built to inclusive design and wheelchair accessible standards, across all tenures.
- The UK Government to amend requirement M4(2) of the Building Regulations 2010, so that it is no longer an optional requirement, but instead the default and the mandatory minimum standard for the design and delivery of all new housing.
- The UK Government to mandate that all local authorities must ensure that a minimum of 10% of new-build houses across all tenure types are built to higher wheelchair accessible standards (M4(3) design standard).
- Local authorities to apply best practice on the use of accessible housing registers, with the longer term aim of the use of a standard methodology across all local authorities.
- Governments to publish standards and monitor and review the effectiveness of Accessible Housing Registers.
This is also an opportunity to increase awareness of spinal cord injury and help SIA by raising vital funds to support our services.
Their Fish & Chip Supper turns ten this year so why not join in the party. Invite your friends and family over, play games, eat and fundraise. You can host your supper on SCI Awareness day or any time throughout the year. They even have a special fish & chip fundraising pack with a special edition quiz to help you have a ‘fin-tastic’ time!
Thank you to everyone who gets involved with raising awareness of SCI. However, you choose to support SCI Awareness Day they look forward to hearing from you.