Major adaptations to your home
If you are struggling to get about in your home you should always look at the solutions which will give you the most independence. It may be worth looking at our pages on Regaining your independence, Help with walking and mobility, and Equipment to help at home for some possible tips.
However sometimes it may be necessary to make some significant changes to your property to make it easier for you to move about and use your home safely and independently.
To make adaptations to your home you will need to seek specialist advice from trained health and social care professionals, equipment providers, or qualified builders and tradespeople. The following are just some of the adaptations which could make your home more suitable for you.
Being able to carry on getting up and down your stairs may make all the difference between staying in your current home or needing to move on elsewhere. Installation of a stair lift could be the answer.
Age UK provide advice on installing a stair lift, and can put you in touch with a reputable supplier.
The Stairlifts Reviews website has easy to understand information on stairlifts for people with mobility issues and aims to make the process of buying a stairlift easier.
Access ramps and wheelchair lifts
If you have to use special equipment such a wheelchair and have small numbers of steps within your home from one room to another you might want to consider installing an access ramp to your home. The type of ramp you will need will depend on the size of the step you want to overcome and the type of equipment you use.
There are many websites out there who can provide access ramps, including The Wheelchair People.
For some wheelchair users ramps and stairlifts may not be the solution. You may need to look at installing a wheelchair lift to help you negotiate steps. These can be particularly useful if you have a flight of steps up to the front door of your property.
Stannah is one of the many websites offering specialist provision on lifts for wheelchair users.
Heating and lighting
Some health conditions and disabilities may make you particularly vulnerable to cold or to sudden changes in temperature, and it may be that you need a different or more reliable heating system to manage this.
If you have to use a wheelchair to get around you may find that you can no longer reach the controls for your heating and lighting systems, and that these will need to be moved or replaced by something more suitable.
Home automation and Smart devices
There are more home automation products or smart devices on the market now which allow you a range of ways to control aspects of your home like heating or lighting.
You can use an app on your smartphone, or speak a phrase to your voice activated assistant device to change the aspect of home environment you want. You can control connected light-bulbs, thermostats, plug sockets, fridges, locks, sensors and more, with devices that allow you to see and interact with a caller at your door via your smartphone screen from where ever you are.
You can set these up so you can "trigger" a series of devices, e.g. when you come home, you call out a set phrase to your voice activated assistant, and it would deactivate the security alarm, light specific rooms, turn up the thermostat and put the kettle on.
These are a few of the product ranges available:
Some changes may require major adaptations but many can just be plugged into a power socket.
Changes to the layout of your home
If parts of your home are no longer suited to your needs, or you at risk of an accident when getting about within your home, you may want to consider undertaking significant building works to change the layout of your property. This could include:-
- Widening doorways so that you can use a wheelchair
- Replacing your bath or shower unit with a level-access shower, or changing your toilet
- Adding a downstairs toilet or bathroom so that you don't have to keep using the stairs.
- Installing low level kitchen units
To make these changes you will need advice from qualified builders on what to do.
If you rent your property from your local council or a private landlord then any adaptations will need to be approved by them.
If you own your own property and are paying privately for major adaptations to be done to your home then Care and Repair and The Home Improvement Agency are among the many companies which can assist you with planning and arranging the work, and in choosing the right people to carry out the work for you.
If you want to arrange the work yourself there are many private companies which are able to undertake adaptations to your home. Once you know what you want to have done and roughly how much you are prepared to pay you can search online or use the Yellow Pages or Which? Trusted Trader websites to help you choose.
It's important to choose reliable tradespeople whose charges are reasonable. The following websites allow you to look for tradespeople near you and read reviews from previous customers, so that you can find out what other people think about the quality of the work and service:
If the builder you want to use doesn't have reviews online, you can ask them to provide testimonials from previous customers so you know they will do a good job.
There are always a few tradespeople out there who try to take advantage of their customers or fail to provide an adequate service; before you make a final decision on whom to use you may want to look at our page on Scams, rogue traders and bogus callers.
You can contact your local council for an assessment of your needs to see if you are eligible for support from the council to make adaptations to your home. If appropriate they will probably arrange for an occupational therapist to carry out an assessment to see what adaptations might be suitable.
If you're eligible they may be able to advise you on possible adaptations, assist you with arranging adaptations and applying for a Disabled Facilities Grant, or recommend some approved suppliers.
Kensington and Chelsea
If you live in Kensington and Chelsea they have produced a leaflet on their Occupational Therapy service who may be involved in assisting you to plan which adaptations you need to make.