Disability Equipment, Mobility and Independent Life

Low cost equipment needed at home due to disability in the UK can be provided such as grab rails free of cost by the Council, if worth less than £1000.  You should get advice about disability equipment that may help, such as from your local Social Services, your Occupational Therapist, or from an Independent Living Centre.  You should make sure equipment follows British Standards, and has the BSI Kite Mark for Safety.  You should check if you buy equipment if they have a refund period or a buy-back period.

As you will see from the section under Housing, on Adaptions, there are lots of different household equipment options, for example, in the kitchen, having kettle tippers, easy open tin openers and more.  In the bathroom, grab rails, bath or shower seats, to dressing aids (and adapted clothing, (see under Clothing)).  Each area of the home and each aspect of someone's lifestyle should be adaptable to make daily activities and activities of choice more possible and easier.

If you need expensive work to your home such as a wet room due to a disability, you can apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant to pay for the equipment.  To qualify, you need to ask your Council for a Home Assessment. You do not pay VAT on disability products or services.  You can get equipment and gadgets to use at home and minimise disability from Living Made Easy.  The Independent Living Foundation provide detailed fact sheets on different products for helping at home.  You can apply to your council for equipment in the home.  The Independent Living Foundation reviews and provides very detailed fact sheets on disability products.

You can get certain mobility equipment, such as wheelchairs from the NHS and you need to see your GP and be referred to Wheelchair Services.  If you need a wheelchair, you need to consider some certain important questions, such as, can you manage with manual or do you need electric?  Can you self-propel (move) or will someone else, like a Carer help you?  Do you want fixed wheels or quick release?  What sort of tyres would be best for your use?  How much space do you have to move abound?  Do you need a folding chair?  To answer these questions and more, you will have an assessment.  If you need a wheelchair, you will be given a Personal Wheelchair Budget to cover the basic cost.  You will have options to pay more and top up your needs.  The wheelchair will belong to the NHS but they will pay for any maintenance.  Alternatively, you can use a different provider, for example, from a mobility specialist.  You will then own and manage your wheelchair.   

To be assessed for at home equipment, you will need a Home Equipment Assessment from an OT or Social Worker via Social Services.  If you would benefit from human help, then you need your Council to agree a Needs Assessment.  You can also get an advocate to speak up for you.  If you need help, there are local advocacy services.

The Disability Living Foundation reviews lots of equipment on daily living and can advise on the best product options for you.

If you have a health condition that puts you at risk, you could use Telehealth.  Telehealth allows you to live an independent life but monitors a condition for you, for example, if you have poorly controlled diabetes or very high blood pressure you would notify them if there is a problem.  https://www.uktelehealthcare.com/what-is-telehealth/

Independent Living Centres are in all large towns throughout the UK and they have and let people try disability products and also get impartial advice on suitability from an OT.  Assist UK was the National network for advice on independent living equipment. Currently, there are 41 member centres.

Disabled Living is a registered Charity providing advice and information about disability equipment such as bathroom equipment, chairs, communication aids, stoma products, clothing aids and adapted options and more.  Their directory is here.  https://supplierdirectory.disabledliving.co.uk/

Wheel Freedom offer a Wheelchair hire service throughout the UK.  https://www.wheelfreedom.com

National Mobility Hire UK offer hire of Mobility equipment like scooters and wheelchairs for long and short hire.  https://nationalmobilityhire.com

Mobility Hire Direct Hireoffer Mobility equipment worldwide.  https://www.mobilityequipmenthiredirect.com

Mobility Hireoffers scooters, wheelchairs, beds, chairs, hoists, walking aids, bed aids and more.  https://mobilityhire.com

Motability can provide not just cars, but also mobility scooters for those claiming higher rate Mobility PIP.  They can also provide grants for mobility equipment.

Better Mobility help you find a charity offering grants for mobility scooters. You can check Disability-grants.co.uk for the latest UK individual charity grant funding for disability products.  The consumer association Which have also reviewed products.

The website, Mobility Shopper Reviews, provides frank reviews on mobility scooters. 

The website, Disabled Gear, http://www.disabledgear.com/, allows you to look, buy and sell UK disability products and equipment.  The other UK disability used equipment site that may be useful is http://www.themobilitymarket.co.uk.

Out and about, you can hire mobility equipment, like scooters from Shopmobility to go shopping.

Remap Charity actually custom make equipment for disability promoting independence and solving real life problems, be they in the home, for day to day life, work.  If you are a disabled parent they can help with a practical issue, or help you get involved in leisure and to help you overcome disability and participate.  They design and make a solution to your problem when other solutions have not been found.  https://www.remap.org.uk

A couple of video examples from Remap of very different issues and solutions.


Demand also design and manufacture products, finding solutions to an individual's disability problem like Remap.  https://www.demand.org.uk/

Designability is a Charity made up of engineers and product designers to help people with disabilities to find a product solution to a day to day problem.  The individual identifies the problem they research and make a solution to increase independence.  https://designability.org.uk/about-us/our-mission/

There is also a useful website, Assisted Technology Design Project, that is part of Drake University.  They used to pair design students with individuals looking for practical product solutions for overcoming disability. While it is an American project, it shows all the past projects over many years so you may find an idea that you could get made for you by one of the UK design organisations above.  https://sites.duke.edu/atdesign/ 

In this video, they look at what the Disability Living Foundation Charity can do to help, in terms of equipment and adaptions focused on one area - the Kitchen.  They also provide lots of fact sheets.

Neater is a company that makes solutions to help those who, for example, experience tremors, so that they can feed themselves if they find this hard due to disability and issues with tremors.  https://neater.co.uk/

There are large private companies that stock many products, like scooters and have worked in the industry for many years, like CareCo.  There are large disability events that attract all the latest disability products, like at Naidex.

When selecting a scooter, consider more than appearance.  Consider balance (A scooter can have between 3 and 5 wheels) and the wheels can help the scooter feel more sturdy if you may have balance issues, portability, battery life, charging, tyres (indoor, outdoor, all terrain).  Do you intend to use on the road? product reviews, price, suspension and speed.

While you may not like to use a scooter, it will, if you have mobility issues, give you much more freedom, control and you can enjoy your day without tiring and see more.  There are lots of quite attractive designs.  They are still heavy, but some will even put themselves up electrically and many do come apart fairly simply for transport.  Some are so portable, you can travel with them on holiday. Those intended for inside use, however, do not cope that well on inside terrain.  You need to understand when and how you will use it and how much you can spend. You can get a scooter from the charity, Motability.  It is not just cars, you qualify if you get higher rate PIP. 

If the equipment you need is technology-related, then try Ability Net.  They will help you find a solution.