Adaptations for everyday living

If you are finding it more difficult to live comfortably in your home there are lots of adaptations, both big and small, that can be made to meet your changing needs and make you more comfortable. Your local council or landlord may be able to help you with the organisation or costs of these, and it may also be helpful to talk any ideas over with friends, family.

Adaptations checklist

There are lots of changes you can make to your home so it ismore comfortable to live in. Any adaptations you make will be specificto your individual needs but might include some of the following:
  • Installing ramps and rails.
  • Widening door frames.
  • Installing a stair lift.
  • Using intercoms or key safes.
  • Adding bath seats, wet rooms and ‘hands free’ toilets.
  • Adjusting work surface heights.

Getting up and out of bed and chairs

If you are finding it difficult to get in and out of chairs or out of bed in the morning, ‘raisers’ can be fitted to increase their height and make them more manageable. You can also get specialist riser or recliner chairs and beds that can help ease you into a standing position.

Using the stairs

If you have some difficulty using the stairs, it may help to get an extra banister rail fitted for support. You could also try to limit your journeys upstairs by making sure that everything you need for the day is with you.

Alternatively a stair lift could make things a lot easier. This is a seat or platform that moves up and down a special rail alongside the stairs. They can be fitted in most homes and bought from a range of suppliers. If your house can’t accommodate a stair lift, or you have concerns about using one, you might consider moving everything you need onto one floor in your home. Discuss this with your family and health workers. The changes you can make will depend on your home but it may be simpler than you think.

Moving around your home

Moving your furniture can make it easier for you to get around at home. Make sure your hallways and rooms are as clear as possible. If you are finding it difficult to move around it may be useful to get some grab rails fitted to the walls.

If you are a wheelchair user and find it tricky to manoeuvre around the house it could be worth getting doors re-hung or door frames widened to make things easier. A ramp could also be installed to replace steps.

Getting help when you need it

Emergency contacts - Make sure you have a list of phone numbers next to each telephone. List key family members and neighbours who can get to you quickly if you need them

Community alarms - These can be really useful for people who live alone, and can be a big comfort. It is a small pendant that you wear around your neck or wrist, which you can press to trigger an alarm if you fall over or have an accident. Local family and friends are also notified. Most local authorities will have an alarm scheme so speak to your local social services department to find out more.

Answering the door

If you find it difficult to get to the door in time, an intercom could be useful. This would enable you to speak to the person via a phone and then press a button to let them in. There are plenty of organisations that provide intercoms. Contact your council or landlord to get a local recommendation.

Alternatively, you could look at getting a key safe, which is a box fitted to the outside of the house that can only be opened by someone who knows the secure code. These are available from a range of companies.

The bathroom

If you are having problems accessing the bath, shower or toilet there are lots of adaptations available.

You could have your current bath fitted with a seat to gently lower you into it. Alternatively, you could have a new bath fitted with a door that enables you to get in more comfortably. Your shower could be adapted to be a ‘wet room’ or level access shower, which would be larger and easier to use. It is also possible to get ‘hands free’ toilets, which can also wash and dry you whilst still sitting down.

The kitchen

Many people enjoy cooking but find it more difficult when they get older and can’t stand for long periods of time. It may be useful to adjust the heights of work surfaces, sinks and cupboards if you are a wheelchair user. And if you find it hard to stand while cooking you could use a ‘perching stool’ to support you.

There are lots of kitchen accessories that can help with day-to-day tasks and mean you can continue cooking the food you love, for longer.

Kitchen equipment

Whatever you find tricky there’s equipment to help make it easier, including:

  • Non-slip mats.
  • Easy-grip knives and cutlery.
  • Bread boards with clamps so you can use them with one hand.
  • Assistive tin and jar openers.

For information on the best gadgets for you visit the Independent Living Advice or Living Made Easy websites.

Help with the cost of equipment and adaptations

The support available to you for housing repairs and adaptations depends on where you live. Your local authority should be your first port of call to find out what help you are entitled to, or you can speak to your local Care and Repair Agency.

Some smaller pieces of equipment and adaptations can be provided free of charge. For larger adaptations (over £1,000), your local authority may be able to help you to apply for a means tested disabled facilities grant. Alternatively, you may be able to apply for a different grant or loan. If you are not able to get support from the local authority or would prefer not to use them, you can get help through private companies or voluntary organisations.

If you are entitled to help with the costs of repairs or adaptations a social worker or an occupational therapist will usually visit you to conduct an assessment.

Moving to different accommodation

If you cannot adapt your home to make it fit your needs, you may need to move to accommodation more suited to you. There are lots of choices available to you so it’s important that you discuss your options with friends, family or carers and make the right choice for you. If you are disabled you may want to request an assessment by the local authority, which will help you review your housing needs.

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Please exercise your common sense when considering this guide and whether to take any of the steps that may be suggested in it. Whilst we have taken reasonable care to ensure that any factual information is accurate and complete, most of the information in this guide is based on our views and opinions (and sometimes the views and opinions of the people or organisations we work with). As a result, we cannot make any promises about the accuracy or the completeness of the information and we don’t accept any responsibility for the results of your reliance on it.

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