Life with arthritis and how aids and adaptions in the home can help people with the condition live independently was the subject of a special reception organised by charity Arthritis Research UK and hosted by Stockton North MP, Alex Cunningham, in Parliament on 11 July.
The event followed the launch of Arthritis Research UK’s Room to Manoeuvre report, which looks at the provision of aids and adaptations for people with arthritis. MPs heard from people with arthritis about how aids and adaptations – such as grab rails or specialised kitchen equipment – have changed their lives. They also tried a variety of home aids and heard about findings from the report, which reveals that many people aren’t getting the support they’re entitled to.
Arthritis and related conditions are the number one cause of pain and disability in the UK, affecting 17.8 million people across the country. Many people with arthritis live with severe pain, fatigue and limited mobility every day, which make even simple tasks a challenge.
Aids and adaptations, such as grab rails, raised toilet seats and non-slip shower mats, help people with arthritis to lead more independent lives and may reduce the risk of them needing more expensive formal care or even A&E services. Almost everyone (95%) with arthritis surveyed by Arthritis Research UK who currently uses aids and adaptations said this help improved their quality of life.
Local authorities have a legal duty to provide aids and adaptations to those who are eligible. However, the charity’s report found that 8 in 10 (84%) survey respondents who are eligible for support are missing out on life-changing equipment, and more than half are buying equipment themselves.
Arthritis Research UK is calling on local authorities to ensure people with arthritis and related conditions are assessed and, if eligible, provided with aids and minor adaptations free of charge. The charity is also calling on central government to support local authorities to meet these duties.
Speaking at the event, Alex said:
“3,598 people in Stockton North are living with osteoarthritis of the hip, 6,109 with osteoarthritis of the knee and 13,126 with back pain, so I wanted to show my support for them in Parliament and hear from people with arthritis about the help that makes a difference to their lives.
“Aids and adaptations in the home can help people to remain independent for longer, and I want to make sure that people with arthritis in Stockton North know about the support on offer. I urge people to reach out to Arthritis Research UK for expert information, help and advice.”
Natasha Packham, a campaigner and volunteer who spoke about her condition at the event, said:
“It was great to be able to share my story about aids and adaptations and the fact that I didn’t know that such help even existed, or the big difference it could make to my life. I’m glad that many so MPs attended, and that I was able to speak to them about this.”
Shona Cleland, Public Affairs Manager, said:
“It was fantastic that Mr Cunningham hosted our event. Arthritis and related conditions are the number one cause of pain and disability in the UK. However, a lack of awareness of the support – such as aids and adaptations – available to help people live independently is a real issue. Arthritis can affect every aspect of someone’s life, from getting up in the morning and going to work, to looking after family and making a meal. It’s great that Mr Cunningham wants to learn more about the help that can really make a difference to constituents with arthritis.”