Anyone with disabilities will want to live as normal a life as possible, something that facilities fitted in the home like disabled walk in baths can help them to do.
However, getting the help required can often be a slow process and new data acquired through a Freedom of Information request has revealed that the worst part of England for tardiness is in the south-east corner.
A study by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has outlined how many people are left waiting for years to get the adaptations to their homes that they need, with the problem appearing to be most severe in Kent.
The longest waits for a Disability Living Grant assessment stretch to more than two years, while 12 boroughs leave people waiting longer than a year on average. Four of these are in Kent, with Maidstone being the second worst in the whole country and Dover, Swale and Sevenoaks also on the list. The process takes an average of 22 months in Maidstone and 15 months in Dover.
Maidstone took 44 days on average to complete the initial assessment, 60 to refer it to its housing department, 222 to process applications and another 146 to complete the work.
Dover Council did not supply details on the initial assessment or referral times, but the processing took 259 days on average and the completion of the work another 164.
Many of the other councils with long waiting times were in London and the south-east. Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire took 234 days to process applications and 123 over installation, Basingstoke and Deane took 204 and 103 days respectively over these stages and Merton 166 and 169. The London borough of typically Bexley took 300 days on installation alone.
Worst of all was Southend, where the processing time was no less than 412 days before a further delay of 117 days for installation. One can only hope its new city status prompts some improvements.
Another region faring badly was the East Midlands, with the processing and installation stages combined taking over 300 days in Derby, Broxtowe and Gedling. This also applied to Wakefield and Hull in Yorkshire and both Plymouth and Mendip in the south-west.
As the Bureau article noted, this has led to many instances of hardship for disabled people of various ages. Head of policy at Disability Rights UK Fazilet Hadi said the delays are having a “devastating impact” on those with disabilities and their families.
She added: “Most people take bathing, cooking, and other everyday activities for granted, yet we are making disabled people wait months and years for basic changes to our homes.”
Individual cases of woe include that of a man known as ‘Mr X’, who faced huge delays over getting mobility bathing services. Greenwich Council has apologised after the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman had been too slow to help him.
In this case, Mr X, who is wheelchair-bound, had applied for assistance in May 2020 on the basis that his flat was unsuitable and could not be adapted, leaving him unable to reach his bath.
Thankfully, he was able to move into a suitable ground floor property with accessible bathing facilities in October 2021.