Independent living

Equipment and adaptations

Equipment and adaptations make an important contribution to supporting older people and disabled people to live safely, comfortably and independently at home.

Examples of community equipment include:

  • home nursing equipment including pressure relieving mattresses, hospital beds and commodes
  • telecare products such as flood detectors, motion sensors and falls monitors 
  • sensory equipment such as flashing doorbells and text phones

Examples of housing adaptations include:

  • replacing a bath with a level access shower
  • improving access to the home by widening doors or constructing a ramp
  • fitting lower work surfaces to make the kitchen easier to use

These alterations are preventative measures. They help to reduce the number of emergency hospital admissions through falls and other accidents, and also reduce the need for home care or long-term admission to a care home.

Investment in housing adaptations

The Adaptations Working Group (AWG) was set up in 2011. Its remit was to explore ways to achieve the best possible outcomes for older people and disabled people from investment in housing adaptations.

It made a number of recommendations in these reports:

Our 2013 response to the 'Adapting for change' report welcomed the recommendations which we are working on in partnership with local authorities, housing associations, service users and others.

Pilot scheme: Adapting for Change

In 2016 and 2017 we worked with health, social care and third sector organisations, like Care and Repair Scotland, in each area to test the AWG's recommendations in five test sites across the country (Borders, Fife, Falkirk, Aberdeen and Lochaber). The full Adapting for Change evaluation and a shorter Adapting for Change learning points summary are now available.

We will commence a consultation before issuing new guidance on good practice.

Helping improve equipment and adaptation services

Guidance on the provision of equipment and adaptations was issued to local authorities and NHS Boards in 2009.

The guidance 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:

Guides for health and social care partnerships

Adaptations funding guides

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.  Local authorities and their NHS partners can make significant savings by recycling community equipment for use by other clients in their area. 

Further advice on equipment and adaptations

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 the Disability Living Foundation's team of occupational therapists and contains useful advice for anyone looking to buy products that might help them, as well as video clips of equipment in use.

AskSARA is a guide that is 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 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.

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