Accessible toilets and smelly people

What is the English Households Survey?


This is the annual report on England’s households. The 2011-12 survey results came out in July 2013. It is for the Department for Communities and Local Government.

People are invited to take part in the survey (they pick the sample), interviewed by the Office for National Statistics. Nearly 14, 000 households were asked many questions and some of them relate to disability and equipment.

Let’s look at some of the interesting findings.

  • 15% of households that included one or more people with a long term limiting illness or disability felt their current home was not suitable for their needs.
  • In 2011 some 726,000 households contained at least one wheelchair user at least some of the time – 3/4 of these lived in households where the oldest person was 60+.
  • Many older people were living in bungalows to have access to a bathroom or bedroom on the same level.

So why did people say their house wasn’t suitable for them?

The number of households, with no adaptations, were asked what they needed…

  • The 2nd and 3rd most needed adaptions were ‘bath/shower or bathing aids’ and ‘ aids to use the toilet’.
  • Some people lived in homes with adaptions that had been previously installed and were not needed.
  • Half of the households had been provided with what was needed – the other half lacked one or more essential things (like a stair lift, bathing and shower aids, grab rails).


Accessible bathrooms and toilets feature strongly on the items people needed in the 1.9 million households that required adaptations – 8% trying to move to a more suitable home.

So are adaptations too expensive?

The average cost of installing adaptations was only £5400 – 20% costing less than £1,300 and 10% in excess of £10,000.

Can you put a price on dignity?

Do these statistics help with understanding the number of people who don’t have access to the toilet or bathroom?

Not really – because even though 57.9 % of households (under 60 yrs of age) had level access to a toilet – level access doesn’t mean the toilet is usable (their may be lack of space to use a wheelchair/walker or commode in that bathroom for example).

This is a pretty dire statistic in the first place – then bring in the debate about whether the level access bathroom is actually reachable/usable and you suddenly realise just how many people don’t have access to a toilet at all (except for perhaps a commode in their living room or bedroom).

Smelly people.

Bathrooms were no better with only 33.3 % of households under the age of 60 having a bathroom at entrance level . So, let’s hope that no more than 33.3% develop a mobility need or have an accident or injury in the future that requires them to use the stairs – or we may have a lot of smelly people unable to get to a sink, bath or shower for a proper wash.

You can read last year’s report at:





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