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Equipment and Adaptations

Equipment and adaptations can help older and disabled people to remain living independently in their own homes, and can reduce the need for more costly home care services, or long term admission to a care home.

What are they and how can they help?

There is now a vast array of equipment available to help people with mobility problems, or to help them with every day tasks like making a cup of tea. Local authorities and NHS Boards can provide equipment to individuals, following an assessment of their needs.

Alternatively, equipment can now be purchased from a variety of retail sources online and on the high street. It is recommended that individuals seek some independent advice before purchasing any equipment. This can be sought from local social work services or:

Some useful online resources include the Living Made Easy and AskSARA websites, provided by the Disabled Living Foundation.

  • Living Made Easy is an impartial advice and information website about daily living equipment, and other aspects of independent living. The site has been developed by DLF's team of occupational therapists and contains a great deal of useful advice for anyone looking to buy products that might help their daily lives, as well as video clips of equipment in use.
  • AskSARA is an easy-to-use online self-help guide that is particularly useful for people who are not sure what equipment might help. Individuals can choose from a list of topics relating to difficulties they might have with different daily living activities or conditions, answer a few questions about themselves and where they live.  A report is then provided from their occupational therapists which details items of equipment that may be of benefit, and where they can be purchased.
  • Disabled Living Foundation (DLF)

Community equipment includes:

  • Home nursing equipment such as pressure relieving mattresses, hospital beds and commodes
  • ‘Daily living’ equipment, for example shower chairs and stools, bathlifts and raised toilet seats
  • Telecare products including flood detectors, falls monitors, smoke detectors and motion sensors. These are often linked to a call centre and trigger a response when activated.
  • Sensory equipment such as flashing doorbells and text phones
  • Communication equipment, including Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) devices to assist people who have difficulty with speech.

Adaptations to the home can help:

  • Make it easier to get into and out of the home by widening the doors or installing ramps
  • Provide disabled access to living space by installing a stair lift or providing a downstairs bathroom
  • Providing suitable bathroom and kitchen facilities that can be used independently, for example a level access shower, accessible WC and kitchen facilities.                   

Helping improve equipment and adaptations services

We issued guidance on the provision of equipment and adaptations to local authorities and NHS Boards in 2009:

The guidance aims to help local authorities and the NHS modernise their equipment and adaptations services. It encourages partnerships to:

  • Place the user and carer at the centre of provision
  • Ensure a consistent approach to assessment, and provision of services, including equipment and adaptations
  • Ensure accurate and accessible information on equipment and adaptations is available to all service users and their carers

We have also developed a range of good practice guides, toolkits and information to assist local partnerships develop and improve their local equipment and adaptations services.

Financial Benefits to Health and Social Care Partnerships

Equipment and adaptations can help local authorities and NHS Boards make significant savings as they are often provided in place of more costly forms of care like home care, or admission to a care home. The paper 'The benefits of Equipment and Adaptations' explores this issue further:  

Local authorities and their NHS partners can also make significant savings by recycling community equipment for use by other clients in their area. We have also published a paper, Effective Recycling of Community Equipment, which provides further details of savings that can be achieved through issuing recycled equipment, not new: