Your guide to care and support

Care equipment, aids and adaptations

Even simple equipment can mean the difference between living independently and needing someone to look after you.

You can buy your own equipment, but a social worker or occupational therapist can help make decisions about the equipment that would be most helpful. Decisions about the kind of equipment you may need will often be the result of an assessment of your care and support needs.

If you have a child with a disability, their GP may refer them to a physiotherapist to assess their mobility needs. The physiotherapist assessing them will be able to explain what kinds of aids may help your child.

You may also be entitled to a Disabled Facilities Grant if you need to adapt your home to make changes for a disabled child. This grant can help pay for adaptations such as building safe play areas, installing a stairlift, widening doors or adapting heating or light controls.

Equipment that can help you to live more independently can include things like:

  • two-handled cups, tap turners and kettle tippers for the kitchen
  • grab rails and raised toilet seats in the bathroom
  • bed raisers and hoists in the bedroom

Free equipment from your local authority

If a local authority needs assessment has concluded that you need this equipment, it should be provided free of charge. Minor adaptations costing £1,000 or less – which includes the cost of buying and fitting the adaptation – are also provided free of charge. Councils can make a charge for minor adaptations that cost more than £1,000 to provide.

Larger, more expensive items may be classed as adaptations and will be the responsibility of the housing department and provided through Disabled Facilities Grants.

If your child needs equipment to help them get full education, it may be provided by the school or the education department of your local authority. Many schools should be able to increase accessibility for individuals by making simple changes to help your child. These changes can include:

  • providing wheelchair ramps and lifts
  • providing railings and improved lighting for visually impaired children
  • providing information in Braille or large print

Equipment that can help you at work

If you need equipment for work, the Access to Work scheme may be able to pay for the equipment.

Contact the disability employment adviser at your local Jobcentre Plus for advice and assistance.

Advice on disability, mobility and care equipment and adaptations

Before you are provided with equipment, or you buy it, it’s worth getting independent advice to make sure that the type of equipment you’re getting is going to best meet your needs.

You can get independent consumer research reports from Rica, an organisation which carries out consumer research for older and disabled people. Help is also available from the Disabled Living Foundation (DLF), a national charity that provides free, impartial advice about all types of home adaptation and mobility products for disabled adults and children, older people, their carers and families.

Read more about wheelchairs and mobility equipment.

The charity Independence at Home provides grants for disabled people and those with a long-term illness. Grants can be made for adaptations, equipment or other things to help manage at home if they're not funded by local or national government.

Tips on buying equipment

Whether you’re buying equipment or having it provided for you, it’s always worth testing out the equipment for yourself first if possible.

When installing equipment, you should also consider the following:

  • Is your condition likely to deteriorate? If so, how much use will you get out of the equipment?
  • Who will be operating the equipment – you, a carer, or both? 
  • Does the equipment come with a guarantee and technical support?

The Money Advice Service has further advice about shopping around for disability aids and equipment.

Equipment and wheelchair loans

The NHS can provide equipment, such as walking sticks, walking frames and wheelchairs to aid mobility. These are provided on long-term loans and you can arrange this through your GP, hospital consultant or physiotherapist. There is no charge for this equipment, but there may be a returnable deposit.

There may be times when you might want to borrow equipment on a short-term loan – for example, if you’re away from home. Local Red Cross branches can often lend wheelchairs and equipment for short periods.

Page last reviewed: 15/01/2015

Next review due: 15/01/2017

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