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27 November 2012 | PR 12/210

Loughborough academic set for MPs meeting over people with spinal cord injuries

Dr Brett Smith

Dr Brett Smith

Loughborough University academic Brett Smith will appear before MPs tomorrow and urge them to stop the practice of forcing people with spinal cord injuries to live in care homes for the elderly.

Dr Smith’s appearance before an All Party Parliamentary Group on Spinal Cord Injury at the House of Lords comes a month after the publication of his research which revealed that lives were being put at risk because of unsuitable care and facilities.

Dr Smith, from the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, will speak on behalf of the spinal injury charity Aspire, who commissioned his research.

He and his team interviewed 20 people with spinal injuries who are living, or had lived, in care homes, some of whom admitted to suicidal feelings because of their poor quality of life.

He said he was determined to put a strong case for change at the meeting.

“The ultimate aim is to say to the MPs ‘this is the evidence, this is what needs to change, are you going to change it?’” said Dr Smith.

“This meeting is fundamental to that. How many chances do you get to stand in front of MPs in an All Parliamentary Group and say, ‘this is the evidence, this is what is wrong, this is what needs to be done, so let’s do something about it’.

“And if you are not going to do something about it why not? That’s essentially what I’m going to say.”

Dr Smith said that under the Human Rights Act all disabled people were entitled to ‘appropriate housing’ which people with spinal cord injuries are not getting.

And he said that adapting people’s own homes, or placing them in social housing, was cheaper that putting them in care homes.

He said: “It costs more in two years to put someone in a care home than it does to adapt their home or provide social housing.

“And in the long term you have all the issues to do with disability benefits and trying to get people back to work.

“You can’t work if you are in a care home, no-one will employ you.

“If you put them in social housing or adapt their homes they are more likely to work and produce and put something back into the economy. And they are more likely to feel better about themselves.

“Short term arguments are being put forward that don’t have any benefits to anyone, the country, society, or the people themselves.”

The findings by Dr Smith, an expert in disability, health and physical activity, detail the risks to physical health such as pressure sores, infections and broken bones, while the psychological risks include chronic depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

His study showed that care homes are inappropriate places to house spinal injured people, yet some people remain in care homes for periods of up to three years or more.

Dr Smith, who says there have been improvements in the way people are transferred from hospital to care homes, is hopeful the MPs will act on his findings.

He said: “I’ve got to be. This project means a lot to me. If you have a son or daughter it could be either of them in a care home. If I fall downstairs tomorrow I could end up in a care home because I don’t have appropriate housing or millions in the bank. This needs to change.”

−ENDS−

For all media enquiries contact:

Chris Goddard
PR Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 223491
E: C.J.Goddard@lboro.ac.uk 

Notes for editors:

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2011 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for the Best Student Experience in England every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

It is a member of the 1994 Group of 12 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

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This page was last updated on Tuesday November 27, 2012 14:14