Multiple Sclerosis sufferers living in ‘horror-like’ conditions due to lack of suitable housing

GLASGOW residents living with debilitating Multiple Sclerosis (MS) are being left trapped in their homes due to a lack of suitable accommodation.

Dozens of sufferers are living in “horror” conditions, according to an MS specialist nurse.

More than 3,000 people are currently living in Glasgow with the neurological condition which affects the nervous system and leaves many completely immobile.

An MS nurse, who did not want to be named, said there are “horror stories” around the city and has called on housing associations and the council to do more.

She said: “There was one woman with a young family who was wheelchair bound and very overweight as a result.

“Her door frames were too narrow for the wheelchair to fit through and as her condition deteriorated, she couldn’t disassemble the chair and get through.

“She resulted to throwing herself onto the floor and defecating on a black bin bag due to being unable to access her toilet.

“Her partner then had to roll her over and put her in incontinence pants.”

The woman was eventually rehoused after the relationship with her partner deteriorated and she was able to get single person accommodation.

Glasgow City Council and housing associations, including GHA, carry out adaptation at the request of tenants if it is safe to do so.

However, issues including the size of door frames, toilets and stairs, can sometimes mean that nothing can be done.

While sufferers wait to be rehoused, no adaptations will be carried out – leaving many in dire situations.

She added: “Once you apply to be moved from your home if it isn’t suitable, the council then refuse to do any adaptations to your home.

“This means that people are left unable to shower due to having no wet room or able to use the toilet, say, if their wheelchair can’t fit through the door.

In September, we reported on Kathleen Hamilton, who suffers from MS and arthritis, and has been reduced to living entirely in one room in her Govan home.

The 61-year-old has to eat, sleep and go to the toilet in her living room.

The nurse added: “There is just not enough homes out there for anyone living with a disability, not just MS.

“Only a small percentage of homes being built are adapted, it’s not enough.

“I’m not suggesting building whole villages of people with disabilities but to have a number all together would offer them support and community.”

Rebecca Duff, Head of Campaigns, Communications and External Relations at MS Society said: “There are more than 11,000 people in Scotland living with MS which can be unpredictable and painful. Many people affected by this neurological condition have no choice but to live in unsuitable accommodation which doesn’t support their needs.

“We are concerned by this and are calling for local authorities to ensure that people are living in appropriate accommodation.

She added: “We would urge anyone experiencing problems like this to get in touch with our confidential helpline on 0808 808 8000 where they can receive information on local services and support.”

Scotland’s biggest social landlord, Glasgow Housing Association, with around 40,000 affordable homes across the city, completed 1,670 adaptations last year.

A spokeswoman for GHA said: “All GHA’s new homes meet the Government’s standard for varying needs – this includes things such as level entrances, doorways of a certain width, and switches at reachable heights.

“We are committed to building 10% of all new homes to wheelchair standard to help meet the council’s city-wide target.”

A spokesman said for Glasgow City Council said: “Across the city there is a total annual budget of £7.2m to support the work to adapt homes or install aids that provide physical support for disabled people.

“The number of accessible housing is increasing in Glasgow with the city’s housing strategy seeking to ensure that 10 per cent of new build housing is suitable for wheelchair users.”


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