The disability charity Livability is calling for an immediate inquiry into the numbers of disabled young people who live in care homes for older people.
Its report, Freedom to Live, which is published today, revealed that an estimated 500,000 disabled 16-20 year-olds are in the wrong accommodation.
The Livability report highlights the issues disabled young people face in obtaining the right education, housing, work and social opportunities in the transition years.
Freedom to Live author Rachel Christophides said disabled young people were losing the independence they might have gained at special schools or colleges. Many had to move back with parents or into older people’s homes because of a lack of group residential places designed for young people. This impacted on their ability to socialise and find work.
“It is very much like going from adolescence into early retirement. They want to be out and about forming relationships and instead they find themselves sitting around in a drab environment doing crosswords,” she said.
She said the charity wanted the government to estimate how many young people are in inappropriate accommodation and what alternatives arrangements can be made.
Key recommendations of the report include:
· An immediate inquiry to gather accurate information on the numbers, needs and locations of young disabled people
· Service providers should be trained specifically in the post-schooling needs of disabled young people with multidisciplinary teams required to begin planning with the young person at least a year before transition
· Only age-specific services be offered and dual-age services be phased out
· 10% of new social housing be built to wheelchair standard
Other organisations that work with disabled young people agreed that the issue is widespread.
Mark Clayton, head of business development at Leonard Cheshire Disability, said: “We know there are councils who say they don’t need to make special arrangements for young people because they have a suitable supply of residential beds and these are often in older people’s homes,” adding that it was “thoroughly demoralising” for young people.
Lucia Winters, development officer for the Council for Disabled Children, said: “In all our work with young people we have heard about this issue repeatedly and it is an issue we believe needs looking at.”
Clayton, however, disagreed with Livability’s call for an investigation. “An inquiry would take a couple of years. We know there are problems. It is time for action,” he said.
Livability was formerly the John Grooms and Shaftesbury Society charities.