Mobility, Adaptations & Equipment – Q & A

I suspect the person I look after could be much more independent if they had the right equipment. How can I get this for them?

The Independent Living Centre 01392 380181 is funded by the NHS and Devon County Council and is there to help people in Devon find equipment solutions to stay active and independent.

Their website has lots of useful information and advice, including ‘before you buy’ guides and an equipment self-assessment tool.

If you want more personal advice you can book a time with one of their OT’s to help find what you may be looking for. They are not a shop, so won’t try to sell you any particular product. They continue to offer visits, currently by appointment only, if you want to try something out. You can call or email via the website online.

There are also OT’s who work within social care teams as well as health services. You can ask for an Occupational Therapy assessment of your needs by contacting Care Direct: 0345 1551 007.

If you are assessed as eligible, relevant equipment can be provided free of charge. Larger or more specialist equipment is provided on loan, for as long as you need it.

I want to get some equipment to help with washing and bathing for my cared for person but have found they are really expensive. Can I get some kind of assessment that might help me claim financial support?

You can ask for an Occupational Therapy assessment of your needs by contacting Care Direct: 0345 1551 007. If you are assessed as eligible, relevant equipment can be provided free of charge. Larger more specialist equipment is provided on loan for as long as you need it.

As well as equipment, such as a bath board, powered bather or a handrail, the OT may discuss the option of adapting your bathroom to make your washing facilities more accessible.

In some circumstances, you may be able to receive a Direct Payment for the equivalent cost of a piece of equipment, so you can buy an item in the style of your choice, for example, a profiling bed with a different bedframe or a chair with a fabric of your choice. You must still ensure that you take the advice of the assessing therapist and what you purchase must meet the identified need.

Can I apply for help for a stairlift or wet room? Who is responsible?

You can possibly apply for funding through a disabled facilities grant (DFG),

If eligible, this grant can fund up to £30,000 towards the cost of certain adaptations, to make a disabled person’s home more independently accessible.

Depending on your finances, you may be asked to make a financial contribution towards the cost of the work.

  • Any proposed work will not be started until you know how much your contribution will be and have agreed.
  • If a person is receiving housing benefit or certain other means tested benefits, a further financial assessment might not be needed, and the contribution towards the cost of the work will be ‘nil’.
  • Grants cannot be given if any work on the property has already started.

Access to the main living areas of a home are covered by this grant. Depending on the assessment of need, this may include, for example:

Widening internal doorways, a level access shower / accessible toilet, kitchen facilities, accessible heating or lighting, a stairlift or through floor lift, ramped access, or an outside space.

To access this grant:

You will need an assessment from a social care OT, who:

  • Confirms a person is eligible for the grant on the grounds of a permanent, substantial disability
  • Makes the referral to the local District Council recommending, with the person’s agreement, what adaptations are ‘necessary and appropriate’ to create adequate access to facilities within the person’s home, including proposed measurements and layout.

Even if you intend to fully pay for adaptations to your home yourself, you may still benefit from an OT assessment and advice.

An OT understands the practical impact of a person’s abilities and diagnosis and therefore what needs to be considered to ensure any adaptation is not just accessible in the short term, but that it continues to be useable.

The District Council

  • Confirms whether the proposed adaptations are ‘reasonable and practical’ undertakes the financial assessment
  • Oversees the grant and the work, with reference to the OT’s recommendations. Any proposed changes need to be agreed by the OT as still suitable.

Non council – is there any help (grants) to make adaptions? (stairlifts, walk in showers).

DFG funding is available to people who own their own home and to private tenants, with the agreement of the landlord.

Council tenants have access to equivalent grant funding, based on the same criteria and process.

Housing associations often have equivalent grant funds available to adapt properties for their tenants. Sometimes a request may go through to a DFG application, depending on the individual circumstances.

All adaptations grants are means tested. The financial assessment is not the same as the one for social care services.

It is always worth checking if you may be eligible. It is sometimes possible to have more than one grant over time, if your needs change significantly. If this is the case, any previous financial contribution you have made will be taken into account.

What does an OT assessment look like? (Will it help? What might they be able to provide?)

An OT assessment may focus on different aspects of your needs, depending on the context of the assessment. OT’s have a medical, mental health and social care training and therefore work in a wide variety of settings.

An OT will consider relevant cognitive, physical, emotional. social or environmental aspects of a person’s particular disability or difficulty, to understand the impact this is having, as well as how this may progress over time.

A core principle of occupational therapy is that meaningful activity facilitates our function. An OT will ask about what motivates you, as well as what your strengths, skills and habits are and will aim to assist you, or give you the tools, to be more independently able to make informed and practical choices and do things in the way you want to.

Depending on the context, the assessment and plan will focus on what this means to you, personally. This might focus on you making changes: understanding something differently, learning a new skill or adapting an old one, or for some it might mean adapting the environment or using equipment to be able to do things more independently.

This is why you are likely to see an OT if you need an assessment for a wheelchair, postural seating or other equipment, as well as for a Moving and Handling assessment or to advise on an adaptation to your home.

In another context you may see an OT for a sensory assessment, to learn independent living or anxiety management skills or as a therapist in a rehabilitation team.

How do I arrange for adaptations such as getting a keysafe fitted?

You can buy and fit a key safe yourself or ask the Independent Living Centre for advice on the best one to get.

To be eligible, through a health or social care assessment, to have one fitted free of charge, you are likely to need at least two or more items of equipment.

When fitting a key safe, consider a discreet location, preferably out of public view.

Some home insurance policies will want it recorded that there is a key safe, so it is best to check with your provider.

My cared for person has died – who do I let know to collect it asap?

Returning Equipment

The Community Equipment Service does not routinely collect a single low cost item of equipment from an individual’s home as it is not economically viable to collect, clean and refurbish a single low cost item such as a walking frame, shower stool or stick. These smaller items of equipment can be taken to local collection and recycling points, from which Millbrook make frequent and regular collections.

If equipment is to be collected from a persons’ home, there is a minimum value for the total of all the items of equipment to be collected. This is set at £30 as this is the level that makes sure it is economical for Millbrook to make a collection, clean and refurbish the items.

Collections with a total (or single) value of over £30 from individual homes are usually carried out within 5 working days, but this can be arranged sooner with Millbrook, if there is a bereavement for example. If someone is unsure of the value or wants to arrange a collection they can contact Millbrook:-

Telephone: 0330 124 4491

I have equipment cluttering up the place that we don’t use anymore – how do I get rid of it?

You can take smaller items to a local recycling centre or arrange for it to be collected, as above,

If the item belongs to you, then you can choose what you want to do with it.

Depending on the condition, you may wish to offer it to someone else, either free of charge or to sell. The ILC operates a second-hand list or some second-hand shops will take some items.

You may want to ask for a review of your needs to clarify if there is alternative equipment that would be more suitable for your present needs, as well as to confirm what you may need to keep and what can be collected.

Council properties - My house isn’t suitable - it has stairs / the bathroom is too small / doesn’t have a shower. I have been on the waiting list to move for a long time.

In Devon, if you need rehousing and you are eligible to apply for social housing, depending on your circumstances and level of need, you will be given a banding which enables you to bid through Devon Home Choice on properties which are listed as available in this banding. Other people will also be looking and bidding and so you will need to keep checking the website.

You might want to ask for a social care OT assessment to consider whether the property you live in could be adapted to make it more accessible and suitable for your needs, so you don’t have to move.

If this is not possible, the OT can usually liaise with the council, or write a letter confirming your needs, to ensure you are given the right banding.

The OT can also give you advice on what kind of property you might consider. For example, you may see a bungalow which has a bath and two steps up to the front door, but you need a level access shower and ramped access. You could possibly request that if you move, adaptations are made to the bathroom and the access, if it is otherwise suitable and the OT may be able to confirm if this is feasible and assist you to liaise with the council.

There is often high demand for properties which have good disabled access so it helps to be as flexible as possible to widen your options, as a property which is ideal for your needs may take a long time to become available.

If you think you should be reassessed and put into a higher banding on the grounds of your disability, it may help to discuss this with the housing officer or with a Social care OT.

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