'I only shower every 3 weeks': Disabled dad says he's 'trapped' in dangerous and unsuitable home

Video report by ITV Granada Reports' Anna Youssef

Kenny Hughes broke his back 18 months ago and is paralysed from the waist down.

The father from Rochdale is currently living in a ground floor flat which is totally unsuitable for his needs: he's not allowed to install a ramp, or a suitable bath or shower.

It means everyday tasks like washing himself can be difficult and dangerous.

Kenny Hughes, who is in a wheelchair after breaking his back, struggles to wash himself as he can’t access his bathroom Credit: ITV Granada Reports

"Maybe once every three weeks I will have a shower," said Kenny. "Then I just use wipes in bed, clean myself off using wipes.

"I don't have carers and I can't afford to pay for carers, so I just have one every now and again.

"It is too dangerous, I can fall and my feet get tangled up behind the sink, in between the feet of the chair, and it takes the scabs that I've got on my ankles, which are pressure sores, and it rips them off.

"They are dressed by a district nurse twice a week but they're not getting better because of where I am living."

Kenny Hughes with his three children Credit: Family photo

Kenny is one of thousands of disabled people in the North West who are facing an uncertain future in unsuitable and unsafe accommodation.

An investigation by ITV Granada Reports has found many people with disabilities are currently on long waiting lists for suitable housing, and feel trapped with nowhere suitable to live.

Charities are calling for more affordable and accessible housing to be built.

Kenny Hughes says he can only shower once every 3 weeks because he can't access the bathroom himself Credit: ITV Granada Reports

Kenny has fallen out of his wheelchair trying to get in and out of his building because he isn't allowed to install a ramp.

There’s no room for a sofa or wardrobes as he needs floorspace to move around so he has to hang clothes on a rail from the ceiling.  

He had to sell the family home after losing his business while he was in hospital for six months after his accident.

He has been on the council's housing waiting list for more than a year, but says he was forced to move into his current flat because it was the only place he could afford."If I didn’t get somewhere like this, then I was going to be put into a care home or a sheltered accommodation, where I would get left, probably for three or four years until I got social housing, and then I wouldn't be able to have my kids." 

"I only signed six months to start with because I thought I would get some sort of social housing quicker.

"As soon as that six month was up, the rent went up, but now it is on a rolling contract and [the landlord] can put it up whenever he wants."

Emily Riley still lives with her parents says she feels 'trapped' due to a lack of suitable, affordable homes for those with disabilities Credit: ITV Granada

Emily Riley from Radcliffe, Bury, and her mother spend a lot of time looking at different properties.

Emily, who has cerebral palsy, is keen to move into her own place but finding an accessible and affordable home is proving a problem.

"So my current living arrangement is that I live with my mum and dad. I’m 26 now. I feel like I should be living independently but there is nothing really within my local area that is deemed accessible.

"In an ideal world I would like a ground floor apartment with PAs coming in but it is finding that within my local area, at the right price, with the right team of people.

Emily's mother Karen Riley says the biggest barrier to Emily finding a home of her own is availability."Availability of buildings that are wheelchair accessible, whether it be a ground floor apartment or a bungalow- they just maybe have steps in front of them, they are on a narrow street, pavement parking, there is just nothing out there that I can see. 

"The cost is just so high at the moment. It would have to be social housing for Emily because it is just unaffordable and unavailable."

"A lot of options have been taken away from me." said Emily. "I would just like a little bit of choice about where I can live.

"I don't want sympathy, but maybe a bit of consideration from the people that make the houses in the local area.

"I feel like I cant stay at home forever but at the moment I am stuck in the middle of what is an inaccessible housing crisis."

Watch: Gary Dawson from the Spinal Injuries Association talking to Lucy Meacock and Gamal Fahnbulleh about the lack of accessible housing for disabled people

A spokesperson for the Spinal Injuries Association said "In the last 12 months we have seen an increase in calls to our support line from people across the country who are angry and concerned that they are in unsuitable and unsafe accommodation.

"Some are being discharged from busy hospitals without being assessed correctly and we have heard of young people ending up in care homes alongside people with dementia because there is nothing else available.

"Only yesterday we received a call from a woman who has ended up in a refuge because she had run out of options.

"Spinal Injuries Association are calling for a change to this totally unacceptable situation.

"Regardless of their age, a safe home adapted to meet your needs is the fundamental right of every person with spinal cord injury in the UK. 

"Urgent reform is needed to increase social housing that is integrated into new housing developments in the UK, in particular homes which can be adapted to meet the needs of disabled people."

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