Whether or not you’re receiving home care, there’s things you can do to keep your independence.
Some simple household aids and gadgets can mean you can carry on doing certain things for yourself. They can also mean that you can live independently without needing any home care at all.
Here are some pieces of household equipment you can use:
- weighted utensils
- table trays
- two-handled cups
- tap-turners and kettle-tippers for the kitchen
- slip-resistant eating and bath mats
- button and zipper-pulls
- wheeled trolleys – these can help you move heavy things
- a shower chair for the bathroom
- perch seats for the kitchen.
If you are planning on staying in your own home, certain home adaptations can help you look after yourself better.
Grab rails can help you climb steps or stairs – or get in bed or the bath. Rails and hoists can also help you get in or out of the bath. And installing a stair lift can make your home safer for you if you have trouble climbing the stairs.
Other home adaptations include:
- raised toilet seats
- pedal-operated hands-free controllers for taps
- a toilet frame – including fixed or moveable armrests
- a bed-raiser – if you have trouble getting in and out of bed, and
- a second banister running the full length of your stairs.
You can find out more about mobility equipment in the NHS mobility equipment guide.
Getting household equipment for your needs
If you want to adapt your home, you can ask for a free assessment from an occupational therapist (OT).
You can ask one of the following to arrange this occupational therapist appointment for you:
- the adult social services department of your local authority
- your GP, or
- your local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
When you get your appointment, an occupational therapist will visit you at home to assess your needs.
They’ll then recommend equipment and home adaptions that can make your life at home easier. They’ll do this based on their assessment and what you tell them. You may also be able to get help with costs.
Paying for home adaptations and equipment
Free home equipment
When you have a local authority care needs assessment, it may show that you need certain equipment or adaptations for your home. These can be provided free by your local authority.
These home adaptations are often related to preventing falls and improving your mobility. They can include:
- building shallow steps or an access ramp to your home
- putting automatic lighting at your front door, and
- installing grab rails.
You can also get any minor home adaptations costing less than £1,000 free from your local authority.
Adaptations and equipment you pay for
When it comes to buying small household aids, like two-handled cups, you may have to buy these yourself.
To find out about the sort of equipment that’s available, you can use the self-assessment website AskSARA. The AskSARA site will also provide details of suppliers.
Depending on the result of your means test, your local authority may charge for more costly adaptations to your home.
These adaptations can include:
- stair lifts
- any bathroom extensions, and
- installation of any ramps.
Getting a grant for home aids and adaptations
If you’re adapting your home because of a disability or old age, you can ask your local authority for help.
Some home adaptations are costly, but you may be able to get local-authority funding to help cover the costs.
You may be able to access the following help:
- local authority help with urgent home alterations or improvements
- a Disabled Facilities Grant for home adaptations, or
- a grant from the charity Independence at Home for disabled people and those with a long-term illness.
You may also qualify for VAT relief on these purchases.
Take independent advice
If you’re adapting your home or buying home-aid equipment, it’s a good idea to take independent advice first.
Independent advice can help make sure the equipment you’re receiving or buying can best meet your needs.
NHS.uk recommends the following organisations who can provide independent advice on home adaptations for disabled and elderly people.
These organisations can give you up-to-date information and advice about the best equipment to meet your needs.
- Disabled Living Foundation (DLF) is a national charity that provides free, impartial advice about all types of home adaptation. It also includes information on mobility products for disabled adults and children and older people, their carers and families.
- Independent Age offers advice on home adaptations.
- RiDC is an independent organisation that carries out consumer research for older and disabled people. They provide advice on mobility and technology as well as home adaptations.
- The Money Advice Service offers advice about shopping around for disability aids and equipment.
- Which? Elderly Care includes information on stair lifts and choosing and fitting grab rails.