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Adapting your home and getting equipment

Adapting your home or buying specialist living equipment can make life much easier for people having difficulty with daily activities. These can usually be provided fairly quickly.

Getting an assessment by an occupational therapist will help you identify the right type of equipment. What’s available will depend on where you live in the UK.

You may also be able to get help with paying for adaptations and equipment.

On this page:

What are adaptations?

Adaptations range from getting devices installed or fitted, such as an intercom, to having parts of your home modified to make you more comfortable. For example, if you’re using a wheelchair, you may need to get doors widened or the bath adjusted. You may not always need to get adaptations made – certain pieces of equipment could make all the difference.

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Equipment you may need

Common pieces of equipment include:

  • hot water bottle
  • bath lift
  • foam cushion
  • raised toilet seat
  • alternating pressure mattress
  • overbed table
  • wheelchair
  • crutches

Many of these can be bought from a household shop rather than through a specialist supplier.

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Adaptations you may need 

Access to your home

  • Handrails for getting into your home.
  • Ramps for wheelchair access.
  • Intercom system for answering the door.

Mobility around the home

  • Widening doorframes and installing new doors to allow wheelchair access.
  • Stairlifts or wheelchair lifts for getting up and down stairs.

Washing facilities

  • Wet room for washing if you have difficulty getting into the bath.
  • Hoist or bath lift to help you into the bath.
  • Grab rails for the bathroom.
  • Mobile shower seats.
  • Hand-free toilets.

Bedroom adaptations

  • Adjustable beds or leg lifters to help you get in and out of bed (these are arranged by the district nurse).
  • A lower bed to stop you hurting yourself if you fall out.

Personal alarms

  • Fall and movement detectors.
  • Sensors to monitor your temperature, blood pressure and inform your family, carers and if necessary your GP.

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Getting help from an occupational therapist

Before you get any equipment or make adaptations to your home, you should be assessed by an occupational therapist to find out what you need. Some adaptations can be made without a referral or assessment from an occupational therapist.

In some cases, a district nurse can also carry out an assessment.

Occupational therapists can visit you at home, at work or in hospital. During their visit, it’s likely they’ll want to see you doing the thing you’re having difficulty with, so try to arrange this for a time of day when you have more energy.

The occupational therapist’s involvement can form part of your community care assessment, also called a needs assessment. This is carried out by your local social services department and includes a discussion about the kinds of care tasks you’re able to carry out unassisted. You may then be eligible for financial assistance.

The occupational therapist at the hospice adapted my house so I could go home. They put handrails in my home and lent me an electric chair with a reclining back that raises up and down, which helps me with my disability. This means I can be comfortable in my own home.  
Willie, who has a terminal illness

You can find an occupational therapist through the NHS  or your local social services department. In Northern Ireland, contact the social services department  of your local health and social care trust.

You can also access them privately. The College of Occupational Therapists has a searchable directory  to find independent therapists in your area. In Northern Ireland, try the Association of Occupational Therapists of Ireland  .

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Finding equipment

The Living made easy  website gives advice and information about daily living equipment and independent living. You can’t buy equipment from this site, but it does provide information about pricing and different suppliers.

The AskSARA   website also gives advice about all aspects of disabled living, including equipment. The site is designed as a self-help guide with questions to help you find information on the different types of equipment that you may need. They may also be able to loan you equipment free of charge for up to two weeks, to try it out.

The Disabled Living Foundation  (DLF) is a charity in England and Wales providing impartial advice, information and training on independent living. Its website contains a lot of useful tips for buying equipment and products.

In Northern Ireland, the Centre for Independent Living has lots of useful fact sheets to help people live independently.

In Scotland, Capability Scotland   or Age Scotland   can give you advice on where to find equipment.

The Disability Equipment Register   lists second hand mobility equipment available to buy direct from previous owners, throughout the UK.

The Independent Living   website is a comprehensive website about mobility aids and living equipment, with links to UK-wide suppliers at the bottom of each article.

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Trying out equipment before you buy

It’s a good idea to try out all equipment before you buy it. If you're considering buying an expensive item, ask to use the equipment for a trial period in your own home or check if you can try the equipment in-store. If you would then like to buy it, you may want to get a community care assessment to see if you’re eligible for any financial help. Some suppliers also offer second-hand equipment at a cheaper price.

These organisations keep a stock of equipment for short term loans:

  • The British Red Cross  loans wheelchairs and other equipment around the UK.
  • Shopmobility  schemes lend or hire out manual and powered wheelchairs and powered scooters.
  • The Independent Living  website includes a list of stockists that will hire out equipment on a short or long-term basis.
  • Age UK  sometimes loans wheelchairs – contact your local scheme to find out more.
  • Mobility Aid Services Scotland  can deliver mobility aids such as stairlifts, recliner beds and bath equipment throughout Scotland and collect it when it’s no longer needed.
  • Disability Needs  is a specialist shop which will allow you to try most of the equipment in-store. It also offers a free home survey to help you decide what equipment to get.

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External websites

This page is for general information only. It's not intended to replace any advice from health or social care professionals. We suggest that you consult with a qualified professional about your individual circumstances. Read more about how our information is created and how it's used.

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