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Local neighbourhoods and health of people with disabilities


I am working on a voluntary project that brings important ideas about biomedical science to the wider community. I am planning an activity about the designs of local neighbourhoods and their impact on health. I do not have a physical disability and would like to include ideas that are important for people who do have disabilities. I understand that you are not an urban planner, but I was wondering if you could let me know what you think are the biggest factors to do with housing and the quality of life (mainly from a health perspective) for people with disabilities?

For example, perhaps accessing good quality housing in an area with good public facilities would be fundamental to good health (as it would be for everyone)...but are there actually any neighbourhoods that have such facilities for people with disabilities and is it easy for them to live in such places? 

The basic premise of the activity would be to get a group of twenty people together and discuss how the design and accessibility of our neighbourhoods is impacting our physical and mental health, and to design an ideal neighbourhood which would allow participants to think about how they can best exploit their local neighbourhoods improve their health. 

I would like the activity to be as inclusive as possible to anyone with a disability, so any access to housing suggestions or feedback on the format would be greatly appreciated. I would also be open to discussion on a more detailed level if you would be available, if not any suggestions would help.

Many thanks!


  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 740 Listener
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  • scienceforall
    scienceforall Member Posts: 3 Listener
    Thanks DannyMoore. That's really helpful information. It doesn't sound like general homes are built with adaptations in mind which are important for every day living and the ones you highlight seem very necessary.

    If anyone else has any more thoughts about neighbourhoods and their impact on health please feel free to leave a comment.

  • feir
    feir Member Posts: 395 Pioneering
    better sound proofing of homes would be good for those of us who don't get much sleep due to pain or whatever. i do live in housing specifically for mentally ill people (i started off as a carer, ended up physically disabled myself at the moment). i'm in chronic pain, this can mean i don't get a lot of sleep, i try to catch up whenever i can, but i live next door to someone whos own mental health makes her prone to violent mood swings and this disrupts any sleep i manage to get, i know it's not her fault but i'm struggling more because of her and my disability isn't affecting her in any way so some sound proofing would have been good for us here, she's also causing my anxiety to become worse as violence is scary for me. as my landlord is supposed to be experts on housing mentally ill people i don't know why they didn't consider that some people would have multiple rages every day that they can't control.
  • Rosiesmum
    Rosiesmum Member Posts: 75 Connected

    They have rebuilt the housing estate I live on since we moved here and it is pretty good as they have good access to transport links,shops etc all also built to the accessible buildings code.

    Our homes are all built to this standard too with wider doorways and no step access.It's come in really handy for our family as they have grown up but our one major issue is the paths!

    To help with drainage they have a ridiculous camber to them and even pushing a buggy is almost impossible..try doing it with a fully grown adult and you literally have no chance so you can only walk in the road.

  • Jean_OT
    Jean_OT Member Posts: 513 Pioneering

    Hi @scienceforall

    As an Occupational Therapist (OT) I really recognise the importance of inclusive design. Further to the earlier post it is normally Occupational Therapists that advise on housing adaptations rather than Occupation Health, as suggested. Occupational Health is a different profession with a focus on employment whereas OT's are experts in adapting environment and activities to enable people to do the things they want and need to do.

    When it comes to advising on inclusive design for neighbourhoods I am aware of a couple of organisations that promote best practice:

    Lifetime Homes: http://www.lifetimehomes.org.uk/pages/about-us.html

    Centre for Accessible Environments:  http://cae.org.uk/ 

    Hope this helps



    Jean Merrilees BSc MRCOT

    You can read more of my posts at: https://community.scope.org.uk/categories/ask-an-occupational-therapist

  • Markmywords
    Markmywords Member Posts: 419 Pioneering
    I think that for "town planning," the more fundamental criteria are most important.

    Building on a hill for instance makes everything else irrelevant. Disabled people could not leave the premises unless by car then. Their own plot of land may even be sloped or on various levels.

    Benches are needed where people can rest or park up a scooter or wheelchair. Some domestic settings may be a mixture of disabled and non-disabled people.

    Adequate lighting along main access routes is necessary. Alleyways or subways should be avoidable.

    Public parks should have wide paved routes though so disabled people can use them.

    All amenities must be accessible e.g. primary schools, GP surgery, pharmacy, local shops.

    In any event, public spaces must be adequately maintained or they would become unusable.

    As for the property itself, the new rabbit hutches built for the non-disabled would not allow a wheelchair to manoeuvre through the furniture or the bathroom. Steps need to be avoided.
    If a property is more than one storey then a toilet on each floor must be at least possible.
    Can the meters be read by someone in a wheelchair?

    Flexibility is the key. No single design could suit everyone's needs so it needs to allow for wide adaptation.
    Minimal maintenance is important too such as with gardens.
    Could an internal or external lift be added later? Is the bathroom big enough for a hoist or being a wet room?

    Security must be considered. Personal safety and property security must be possible. Could CCTV easily cover the property including the grounds?


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