'I'm a prisoner': 50-year-old man stuck in nursing home for two years with nowhere else to live

Daniel lives in a care home predominantly for the elderly, despite being fully able to care for himself. Credit: ITV News

“My independence has been taken away, my freedom has been taken away. Effectively I am a prisoner in a nursing home.” 

In February this year, I met Daniel Slade. He was 49 years old, and living in a nursing home predominantly for the elderly.

Despite being disabled, Daniel doesn't require any care.

He was placed there temporarily, in November 2018, by his local housing association because they didn’t have anywhere else to house him.

Almost two years on, he’s still living there.

Daniel is a wheelchair user. He had a major aneurysm aged 47 that left him unable to walk. When he separated from his partner, he had no where to live. 

'I'm imprisoned in a nursing home...'

He was sent straight from hospital where he was being treated, to the care home in Northampton.

Daniel was, and still is, incredibly grateful to the home for allowing him to stay, but he did not expect to be there for 22 months. 

“For someone who was as active, independent and self sufficient as I was, to wake up one day and realise your paraplegic, is hard to take,” he said.

“But then to be put in a place like this, because there’s no where suitable for you, is wrong.”

Daniel is confined to a room in the care home, surrounded by his possessions, stacked in boxes around his bed.

His furniture has been in storage for almost 2 years while he waits for somewhere to live.

'I'm fiercely independent...'

Until then, he remains in a nursing home that predominantly looks after people his parents and grandparents age.“I am 49 years old, living with a 80 and 90 years olds dying on a daily basis.

"Living here isn’t easy, everything is directed at a people one and a half generations above my age. There’s literally very little for me.”

Amid the coronavirus crisis, the care home locked down early, banning all visitors and not allowing any residents to leave.

A sensible decision, but one that meant Daniel was locked inside for 5 months.He couldn’t leave the home or receive any visitors. He had hospital appointments cancelled. 

“My independence has been taken away, my freedom has been taken away. Effectively I am a prisoner in a nursing home.” 

Only recently he's been able to go out but only to drive his car and he can’t get out of the car to meet people - if he does, he will have to isolate in his room for 14 days. 

'This place is made for people a generation and a half older than me...'

Daniel needs an accessible home. A ramp into the property, a downstairs bathroom, door frames wide-enough to fit his electric wheelchair. 

He looks for properties everyday, and has “bid” for 8 on local housing association websites, but has been unsuccessful each time.

In 22 months, he has been shown just four properties by Northampton Partnership Homes.

Daniel says none of them met his needs as a disabled wheelchair user. He tells me he’s desperate to move but doesn’t want to swap one problem for another and be left in a property he can’t fully access or navigate.

We contacted Northampton Partnership Homes, who told us: “Daniel has been waiting for a suitable home for some time and we’ve been actively looking at options for him.

"We have offered Daniel wheelchair accessible homes on four separate occasions, which he unfortunately felt he could not accept.

“It's not always possible to find homes in specific areas as we are limited to homes that naturally become vacant, those where adaptations are possible or new-builds. 

“We understand how difficult this is for Daniel, and indeed everyone waiting for an affordable home at a time where there is a national shortage.

"We are doing everything we can to increase the supply of accessible council homes in Northampton through our new build programme, however it will be many years before we are able to meet local demand.”

Daniel gives a tour of his bedroom in the care home:

Daniel refutes the suggestion he turned down houses based on “specific areas”.

He says none of the homes he was offered were suitable for his needs. 

He now worries that by saying no to those properties, he is seen as ungrateful or picky - “a moaning old man that will never be happy,” as he put it.The housing association Habinteg says Daniel’s case highlights the lack of accessible and affordable homes for people with disabilities. 

The latest English Housing Survey showed 9% of homes in England have key accessibility features to deem them ‘visitable’ for a disabled person.

Habinteg say 400,000 wheelchair users are living in homes which are neither adapted nor accessible. 

Home Secretary Priti Patel admitted "there is obviously more that needs to happen in terms of more accommodation" and said people in need of support should contact the Department for Work and Pensions.

'There's more work that needs to take place...'

She added: "There's more work that needs to take place with charities and providers and clearly we will do everything that we can and I know that my colleagues in government will work to achieve that."

The Department for Housing told us: “The number of accessible homes has nearly doubled in a decade but we know there’s still more to do. 

“That’s why we’ve launched a consultation on ensuring all new homes meet the highest accessibility standards. 

“Since 2012 our Disabled Facilities Grant has provided over £3.2 billion to deliver around 280,000 home adaptations – including stair lifts, wet rooms and ramps – helping people live independently at home.”

'It's a prison sentence': Report from February on Daniel's life in the care home: