Ninety-five patients with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthrosis were interviewed and questioned in their homes, being randomly selected from 354 outpatients with these diseases. The findings were compared with answers from 30 matched able-bodied controls. The handicapped were mainly female and elderly; over half were severely or appreciably handicapped; nearly one-third lived alone. The average weekly income of these households was £25, at least £6 a week less than their age-matched counterparts. Very few subjects lived in adapted or specially designed housing, and half the housing had at least 2 steps to street level. A third of the sample could not walk more than 10 yards (9 m), and only half could walk 100 yards (90 m); yet only one-third had a bus stop, one-quarter a local park, and one-third a local shop within this distance. One-third of the patients could not shop for themselves. Powered wheelchairs were not used. Buses were rarely or never used by nearly half these arthritics because of severe disability. Cars were owned by less than a quarter of the sample, and only by those financially better off. Over a third were unable to get a lift when wanted. Cars ameliorated much of the frustration and lack of social contact caused by physical disability. Adequate financing would enable those with severe disability to engage in normal activities. Better designed buses stopping nearer the homes of handicapped would improve independence for those less severely disabled. Correct siting of mobility housing, shops, community facilities, and parks would be greatly appreciated, as would removal of all unnecessary steps and kerbs.
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