Equipment for use about the home

Friday, 5 June 2009  |  Paul

Specialist equipment and adaptations can make it much easier for you to live independently in your own home. The equipment available ranges from large equipment like stairlifts and hoists to smaller gadgets designed for people with specific disabilities.

Large Items or Permanent Fixtures

If you are physically disabled, and especially if you are a wheelchair user, you may need to get equipment and have permanent fixtures installed at home so that you can live there independently.

Examples of equipment and adaptations include:

  • stair lifts
  • ceiling hoists
  • powered or manual height-adjustable beds
  • powered leg-lifters for people who have difficulty lifting their legs into bed

You may also need to have adaptation work done in your home - for example, having doorways widened or a ramp installed.

Everyday items to make life easier

A wide range of gadgets and devices are available that make everyday tasks easier for people with specific disabilities. Some examples are:

  • clamps and holders to keep jars stable so they can be opened with one hand
  • talking kitchen scales for people who are blind or visually impaired
  • alarm clocks that vibrate under the pillow for deaf and hearing impaired people
  • kettle tippers for people who have limited arm strength or restricted movement
  • devices that remind people with memory loss or learning disabilities to do a daily task, for example taking a pill

You may have to pay for the equipment yourself. If a piece of equipment will meet a need the local council has assessed you as having, you can use your direct payments to pay for or towards it.

The Disabled Living Foundation has a large range of factsheets, including a number of factsheets concerning equipment for use about the home.

Telecare and personal alarm systems

Being able to summon help immediately in an emergency is often an important consideration for disabled people wanting to live independently at home. A personal alarm system could be the answer.

Personal alarm systems can take many forms. Some depend on someone to be nearby - for example in another room or next door.

Telecare alarms, known as community alarm services, are very useful for people who live alone. They work through a base unit in your home, which is connected to your phone line. By pressing a button on the unit or on a pendant that you wear around your neck, you are connected with an operator who can arrange the help you need.

Some telecare alarms have movement sensors that can detect if someone has fallen and cannot get up, or leaves a certain area. Those alarms will be activated automatically, so the person does not need to do anything to summon help.

The Disabled Living Foundation factsheet 'Choosing a personal alarm system' may help you decide what kind of personal alarm system, if any, is right for you.

Telecare devices that can detect smoke, water flooding, gas leaks, room temperature and more are also available. Many of these can be particularly useful for forgetful people.

The Disabled Living Foundation factsheet 'Choosing equipment to maintain safety and independence at home (introducing telecare)' has plenty of useful advice.

Additionally, the Disabled Living Foundation's 'Living made easy' website has a section about telecare. It has free, impartial information about telecare generally as well as about telecare products available in the UK.

Information provided by Direct Gov