Written by: Chris Green
Source: i News
A 22-year-old disabled man who has been stuck in a care home near Glasgow for nine months due to a lack of accessible housing says he is desperate to live independently again.
Ryan Hughes has been living at Campsie Neurological Care Centre in Kirkintilloch, a specialist home which has mainly elderly residents, since June last year.
He was born with cerebral palsy but previously lived a largely independent life, using an adapted wheelchair to get around, until a serious infection resulted in a long hospital stay.
When he was discharged from hospital, he was unable to move back in with his mother as her house was not properly adapted – and no other suitable accessible homes were available.
Although he has registered with around 20 housing associations in the Glasgow area, a lack of such properties means he is still in the care home surrounded by people decades older than him.
“I’m basically having to do my own thing, most of the time in my own room,” Ryan told i. “It’s not doing my mental health any good. It’s quite depressing being my age and being stuck in a care home.
“Most of the residents in here have got communication difficulties, so there’s not really anyone to talk to except the staff, and they’re always working.”
i‘s campaign Fair Housing For All is calling on the Scottish Government to set a new national target of building at least 10 per cent of new homes to wheelchair accessible standards.
Earlier this month, a major report found that one in five wheelchair-using people in Scotland live in unsuitable houses, with the issue set to get significantly worse.
A separate i investigation also found that almost 10,000 disabled people across the country are waiting for more suitable council houses – with one requesting a change of property in 1969.
Ryan said he was “always very independent” before his stay in hospital, which came about after a series of Botox injections in his legs to relax his muscles left him less mobile than before.
“I had my own adapted chair and was volunteering as a music facilitator, performing my own music and working with other disabled children,” he said.
“If I had my own place I’d have my own freedom and time to do things. Before this happened to me, I had a life. I’m embarrassed that I’m in a nursing home.”
Ryan is being helped by the Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living, which is trying to find him a one or two bedroom wheelchair accessible property in Balornock, Barmulloch or Springburn.
Grant Carson, the organisation’s director of housing services, said Ryan’s situation illustrated the problems created by Scotland’s “chronic lack of wheelchair accessible housing”.
“Guidelines and the historically slow and inefficient, reactive approach used by landlords and builders have failed disabled people for decades,” he added.
“The current piecemeal postcode lottery of provision is a scandal and continues to deny disabled people in Scotland their rights to a suitable house.”
Ryan wants to live independently again, but no houses are available (Photo: GCIL) A spokeswoman for Lifeways, the company which runs the care home, said: “It’s not an ideal situation for Ryan to be in, even if the home is taking good care of him.
“We support efforts by all agencies to find suitable properties that will allow people like Ryan to live a more independent life.”
Glasgow Housing Association said it had awarded Ryan its highest possible housing priority and would be arranging another meeting with him to see if anything more could be done.
“In the past year, only six suitable homes have come up in the part of Glasgow he is looking for. There are also a number of other people who are also looking for homes like this,” said area director Andy Ashcroft.
Scottish Government housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “Everybody should have the right to live independently and we want disabled people in Scotland to have access to homes built or adapted to enable them to participate as full and equal citizens.
“Our Disability Delivery Plan sets out a number of housing related commitments that support this ambition which includes ensuring that each local authority sets a realistic target for the delivery of wheelchair accessible housing, and report annually on their progress.
“We’re also working with health and social care partnerships, disability organisations, and the housing sector to ensure those in need of adaptations to their home can access those services.”