How do I find out if I'm eligible for local authority support?
Both the local social services and healthcare services have a duty to provide support and assistance to people with eligible needs, and this will include the provision of equipment, modifications and adaptations to your home.
If you think you would benefit from equipment or home adaptations to help you stay safe at home and provide more independence or need domiciliary care, the first step is to get a needs assessment from your local authority.
A care specialist, such as an occupational therapist or a social worker, will look at your situation as a whole, including any needs for domiciliary care, technology to manage risk and accommodation needs. Local authorities will only loan or give you money to buy equipment or fund alterations that they have assessed as being necessary.
If you have an informal carer (maybe a family member or friend), they can also request a carer’s assessment of their needs to see if they’re entitled to help and support.
If you’re in hospital
If your key worker or liaison nurse feels that you would benefit from home adaptations or equipment or more formal domiciliary care as a part of your ongoing care and support, they will arrange for an occupational therapist (OT) to visit you before you leave hospital.
The OT may also need to visit your home to get an idea of the difficulties you might face. You, or a family member, can request to be present at the visit.
What will happen at the assessment?
The OT (or other care professional) will speak with you and look around your home to identify what difficulties you face. It can be helpful for a friend or family member to be present during this assessment to support you and make sure that all the important issues are discussed.
We explain this in greater detail in getting a needs assessment.
What happens after the assessment?
If the OT assesses you as having eligible needs, they will then make recommendations in a care plan for any equipment and/or adaptations and other personal care support relating to your needs. There is no charge for essential health and social care equipment.
It’s important to also realise that, in the main, any equipment that is recommended is considered to be on long-term loan. So once it’s finished with, it will have to be returned to the service.
More importantly, this also means the provider is responsible for the maintenance and any servicing of the equipment. This may be an added advantage if high-cost equipment is required.
The local authority doesn’t provide funding for scooters and wheelchairs.
Major adaptations at home
If the OT recommends major adaptations (costing more than £1,000), you can apply for a grant from your local council to help with costs (called a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG), and available if you’re the owner of your property or a tenant). A family member, landlord or Home Improvement Agency can apply for local authority grants on your behalf.
If your home isn’t suitable for a conversion
If your home isn't suitable for conversion, you may need to consider a move to somewhere that has already been adapted, or would be easier to adapt.
You might also want to consider sheltered housing. These properties have been created with older people in mind and are usually compact and easy to get around. Most have been built (or adapted) to suit people with reduced mobility or disabilities.
What happens if I'm not eligible for local authority support?
You can still organise to get hold of certain pieces of equipment, from, say, the wheelchair service if you have a permanent disability or a community nurse. For this support, you will need to have a GP referral.
In other circumstances, you will need to do your own research – our article finding out what home care products are available is a good place to start.
You will also be responsible for organising your own domiciliary care.
Home care services can be provided by a range of organisations or even private individuals.
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A needs assessment is key to getting the support you need. You have a right to this assessment and it's free of charge.