Managing at Home
Everyone has a right to feel safe in their home. You may find that you are struggling with is being able to, or helping the person you care for be able to move around the house easily or you could find it difficult to help the person you care for have a bath or shower.
There are lots of different pieces of equipment which could
help you or the person you care for more independent and make life safer and
easier. There are also assistive technologies, such as telecare and medication
dispensers, which you can use which may also help, especially if you are not
with the person you care for all the time.
Getting some specialist equipment such as handrails, lever taps, and ramps can really help if you or the person you are caring for are finding things difficult. In some cases larger adaptions such as level access showers and stair lifts may be required. Research would suggest that remaining in your own home can provide the best health outcomes and these small adaptations could really help make your lives easier.
How to get help
The first step is to request a needs assessment [link] from your local council which will usually involve an Occupational Therapist (OT). The OT is a specialist who will look at what everyday tasks you struggle to do and suggest easier and safer ways for you to do them. This could involve providing you with aids or equipment, or recommending adaptations to your home. Their aim is to keep you as mobile and independent as possible.
During your assessment, make sure you point out any difficulties you have, for example with getting into bed or bending down to put on shoes or plug in the vacuum cleaner.
The assessment will also look at whether you need help with personal care, which includes tasks like washing and dressing. Once you’ve had the assessment, the OT will explain what the next step will be.
Do I have to pay?
Local authorities are able to charge for services they provide to meet needs. However, they cannot charge for a service consisting of the provision of disability equipment and minor adaptations that assist with nursing at home or aid daily living.
A minor home adaptation is defined as one costing £1,000 or less in the charging regulations. These are often related to mobility and falls prevention, for example: a short concrete ramp or shallow steps, a grab rails by the toilet, extra hand rails or automatic lighting at the front access or levelling door thresholds.
You’ll only get these adaptations or equipment free if you’ve been assessed as needing them, which is another good reason to get an assessment. You may be awarded a direct payment to pay for the adaptions. The council may not pay for very small aids, such as adapted cutlery or easy-open can openers, so you’d need to buy those yourself.
Every local authority has disability equipment stores which are jointly funded and run by themselves and the NHS. Equipment is loaned to you, for example commodes or walking aids. Your GP, district nurse or community physiotherapist, can ask for these items to meet your needs.
If you’re assessed as needing an adaptation that costs over £1,000, you may be able to get help to pay for it. For example, you might be able to apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) of up to £30,000 depending on your income and savings. You usually won’t be able to get anything if you’ve already started work on your adaptations before your application has been approved, so look into this before you start. Bear in mind that this process can take a while – you should hear within six months whether you qualify for a DFG and the work should be done within a year of the application, but longer delays aren’t unusual.
Please click on the links below to find out more information in your area:
If you live in a different area you can use the link below to find your local council and search “equipment”
Age UK have lots of useful information and provide advice on stair lift installation and have links to reputable suppliers, including Stannah and Handicare. They have also produced a great factsheet about home adaptions.
The Disabled Living Foundation (DLF) is a national charity providing impartial advice, information and training on independent living since 1969. Their website is full of useful information including lists of suppliers and factsheets. They can be contacted 0300 999 0004
AskSARA is a free and easy to use online self-help guide providing expert advice and information on products and equipment for older and disabled adults and children. Answer some questions about yourself and your environment and you’ll receive a free personalised report, providing clear, tailored advice written by experts on ways to help with your daily activities. Advice is written by Occupational Therapists and equipment experts: they do not push products, but offer recommendations based on your answers.
RiDC, Research Institute for Disabled Consumers carries out consumer research for older and disabled people and has information about the likely costs of adaptations and equipment. They have lots of guides about equipment and technology.
The Home Improvement Agency offers reliable information and advice and support people to make modifications to their homes as their health and needs change through later years especially. They provide a directory of organisations who will do home improvement works.
There are nearly 200 HIAs in England, sometimes known as Care & Repair or Staying Put schemes, covering 82% of local authorities. To check if there’s one in your area call 0300 124 0315 or visit findmyhia.org.uk
Carers UK have a lot of useful information about equipment