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6 December 2012 | PR 12/221

MPs vow to act after Loughborough academic’s spinal cord injury presentation

Dr Brett Smith

Dr Brett Smith

Members of Parliament are to lobby the Housing Minister on behalf of spinal cord injured people following a presentation by a Loughborough academic.

Dr Brett Smith appeared before an All Party Parliamentary Group of MPs on Spinal Cord Injury at the House of Lords and urged them to help stop the practice of forcing spinal cord injured people into care homes.

The 50-strong group of MPs, chaired by Ian Lucas, MP for Wrexham, agreed to write to the Housing Minster, Mark Prisk, after listening to Dr Smith’s 20 minute presentation which was followed by a Q&A session. Baroness Masham of Ilton said she would take the case to the House of Lords.

The committee agreed to push for change, which includes a block on spinal cord injured people being put into care homes, and the provision of more social housing and grants to adapt their own homes.

Dr Smith, from the School of Sport Exercise and Health Sciences, had argued that change was needed to improve the quality of life for spinal cord injured people.

His research, commissioned by the spinal injury Aspire, revealed that lives were being put at risk because of unsuitable care and facilities.

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

Dr Smith, who was accompanied by Alex Rankin, Aspire’s Director of Services, was delighted with the reaction of the MPs and is hopeful that the government will listen and change their policy
.
He said: “It went better than I anticipated. I was not sure that the MPs and disability user groups would take me seriously.

“But they took us very seriously and the chairman of the committee said, ‘we have got to take this seriously and do something about it.’

“They are going to write to the housing minister and say that things need to change. The housing minister has to respond and say how things will change, and if not, why not.

“They were very confident that the law will be changed and more resources will be provided to stop spinal cord injured people being moved into care homes.”

Dr Smith argued that placing spinal cord injured people in social housing, or keeping them in their own homes, was not only cheaper than putting them in care homes, but was also better for their ‘well-being’ and their chances of finding a job.

He also said that under the Human Rights Act, and the government’s disability rights policy, all disabled people were entitled to ‘appropriate housing’.

Aspire say they will continue their efforts to raise awareness about the issue and the full research report can be obtained at the following link: http://aspire.org.uk/care-home-research.aspx

−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.

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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