Why adapt your home?
You might want to consider making adaptations to your home if you are finding it harder to carry out everyday tasks. For example:
- answering the door
- managing stairs
- using the bathroom or toilet
- using kitchen equipment safely.
Sometimes you might need to consider larger adaptations, for example if you are having difficulties:
- getting in and out of your home
- moving around inside
- using parts of your home, such as the shower or kitchen.
If you are losing your sight or your hearing or having problems with your memory there is also a range of technology and equipment that could help you with your specific needs.
Types of adaptation
Tasks that used to be easy may have become more difficult but there are many types of adaptation and equipment that can make your life easier. Some examples include:
- installing a downstairs bathroom
- fitting a lift or stairlift
- widening doorways
- lowering worktops in the kitchen
- installing outdoor stair rails or a ramp
- installing grab rails in a bathroom
- fitting a second banister on a staircase
- riser-recliner chairs
- a bath seat or electric bath lift
- walking frames
- perching stools in your kitchen or shower
- safety equipment, such as pendants or alarms
Small kitchen aids
- kettle tippers
- easy-open can openers
- adapted cutlery.
Deciding what you need
During the coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency, the government has brought in new legislation which means local councils can trigger powers allowing them not to meet all their social care duties. This should only be done when strictly necessary, for example because of demands on services or a reduced workforce.
If your council uses the new legislation, they might only assess people with the most urgent needs, or only meet someone’s most essential care and support needs. Find out more about these changes on our COVID-19 webpage.
If you think you need some adaptations to your home you should contact the adult social services department of your local council, your GP or local Clinical Commissioning Group, and ask for an assessment by an occupational therapist (OT). The assessment is free.
If you think you might need help with your personal care, such as getting washed and dressed, ask your council for a care needs assessment. This is also free.
Who will help me decide?
An OT will visit you at home and assess your needs. Based on the assessment and what you tell them, the OT will recommend equipment and adaptations to make your life easier. The council has to provide equipment and adaptations that cost less than £1000 free. You may also be able to get help with costs for larger adaptations.
A care needs assessment may be carried out by a social worker. They may find that you are eligible for additional support services, such as visiting carers.
If you’re in hospital
Before you go home, the OT in the hospital might assess you and decide that some adaptations are needed so you can return home safely. These adaptations should be made before you are discharged.
If you need a larger piece of equipment or adaptation, they might refer you to the OT at your local social services department who will assess you at home.
You may have to buy some very small aids yourself, such as kettle tippers. You can use the self-assessment website, askSARA to find out about the sort of equipment that is available and details of suppliers.
Help with specific needs
Organisations, such as the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB), Action on Hearing Loss or Sense, may be able to provide more in-depth advice about technology or adaptations to help with your specific needs, for example if you are losing your sight or your hearing or you have problems with memory loss. They offer equipment assessment services in some areas, in partnership with local authorities and community groups.
If you're turned down
If you're turned down for a piece of equipment or an adaptation, you can make a complaint. Start by asking the council about their complaints procedure. If you had an occupational therapy assessment, ask for a copy of this as well. See our factsheet Complaints about care and health services for more information.
You can find contact details for your local council on gov.uk/find-your-local-council
The Disabled Living Foundation provides advice and information on independent living.