Where should I start?

If you think you could benefit from some specialised equipment or other help at home, start by requesting a free care needs assessment from the social services department of your local council. For more information on this, see Getting a care needs assessment. An occupational therapist may be involved in your assessment to help decide what equipment might help you.

Even if you’re planning to buy equipment privately, an assessment is a good way to find out about the different types of equipment available and get expert advice on whether they could help you.

Types of equipment

There are lot of different types of equipment on offer, ranging from small gadgets to large items like wheelchairs. Here are a few examples:

Mobility scooters

These can help you get around independently if you have mobility problems. They come in two basic types: class 2 and class 3. Class 3 scooters can be used on the road and travel at up to 8mph. Class 2 scooters can only be used on pavements and can travel at up to 4mph. You’ll need room to store your scooter indoors so you can charge it.

Electric wheelchairs

These can help you if you find it hard to push yourself in a manual wheelchair or need to travel long distances. You may be eligible to borrow one or get financial help towards buying one through the NHS wheelchair service – ask your GP for more information. Like mobility scooters, there are two main types, one for road use and one for pavements only.

Stairlifts

These can move you up and down a track on your stairs, usually in a sitting position. If you use a wheelchair, you can get a stairlift with a wheelchair platform. Stairlifts aren’t safe or suitable for all stairways, so get advice from an occupational therapist or assessor from a stairlift company before buying privately.

Riser recliner chairs

These chairs slowly rise up and down to help you to stand and sit. They also have a reclining action to make you more comfortable once you’re sitting. Most are electrical, but some have manual levers. They come in different sizes and can have additional features like a rising leg rest or pressure-relieving cushions.

Small aids for daily living

There are small gadgets you can buy yourself which might make a big difference. For example, kettle tippers and tap turners could help you in the kitchen, or a stocking aid could help you put on socks or slippers. The Disabled Living Foundation has lots of information on this (asksara.dlf.org.uk).

Paying for equipment

Disability equipment can be expensive, but you might be able to get some help with the cost from your local council. For more information, see our factsheet Adapting your home to stay independent.

Next steps

It’s always a good idea to try out equipment before you buy. The Disabled Living Foundation has a list of Equipment Demonstration Centres in the UK.

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