From small changes to your home, such as grab rails, to major home improvements like the installation of a stairlift or fitting of a wetroom, there are many ways in which your house can be adapted to suit your current and future care needs. Depending on your need for equipment, adaptations and improvements you may be able to get financial assistance from your local authority, charities or the NHS.
If you feel you would benefit from the provision of smaller changes such as the installation of grab rails, bath seats or a ramp then contact the social services department of your local authority to request an assessment of your needs. It is likely that you will then be visited by an Occupational Therapist (OT), if they agree that you need adaptations then these should be provided free of charge if the total cost is less than £1,000
For larger improvements, such as widening doorways, installing a stair lift or fitting a wet room, your Occupational Therapist may suggest applying for a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG). This grant of up to £30,000 will consider your finances and is provided by your local authority, it can help cover the cost of major improvements.
In order to qualify for a DFG, you or someone living in your property must be disabled. Either you or the person you’re applying for must:
- Own the property or be a tenant
- Intend to live in the property during the grant period (which is currently 5 years)
- You can also apply for a grant if you’re a landlord and have a disabled tenant.
The council also needs to be happy that the work is:
- necessary and appropriate to meet the disabled person’s needs
- reasonable and can be done – depending on the age and condition of the property
You can apply for a DFG by contacting the Adult Social Care team of your local authority and requesting an OT assessment of your property or by speaking to your local Home Improvement Agency (HIA). HIA’s are not-for-profit organisations that advise and assist older homeowners and renters on making repairs, adaptations and improvements.
There are a range of aids and equipment available to make daily life easier. To explore what might be available to help you, we would suggest using the Disabled Living Foundation’s Ask Sara tool.
If you are concerned about falling, you may wish to speak with your GP about using walking aids to assist you around the home. Your GP can refer you to a falls prevention service where they can explore a range of walkers, balance exercises or even wheelchairs. All walking equipment from the NHS can be provided on free long-term loan.
Your GP can also refer your areas Disability Equipment Store to access health and social care-related equipment, such as commodes and shower seats. These are typically provided free of charge, depending on your needs.
Finally, you may find that your local authority, following an assessment by the Adult Social Care team offer you a disability equipment prescription. This allows you to buy certain equipment from accredited local retailers. Equipment may include: raised toilet seats, bath boards, perching stools, adapted cutlery and back rests.
Equipment such as electric hospital beds, allowing the user to be raised up or lowered down in comfort, or mobile hoists that can be used by trained carers to get you in and out of the bed. This equipment is typically supplied by your local authority following an assessment by the Adult Social Care department.
Other sources of funding
If you are not able to secure local authority or NHS funding for the equipment, adaptations or improvements that you need, then you may wish to enquire about charitable grants that are available to cover the cost. Turn2Us are a national charity that maintain a database of grant-giving organisations, their website can be accessed, here.
You may also want to ensure you are receiving all the State Benefits you are entitled to. Attendance Allowance is a non means-tested benefit for people over 65 who are in need of supervision or support – regardless of whether or not they receive any assistance.