Getting adaptations

If you are elderly or disabled and cannot get around your home easily, or you have problems using all the facilities, it may be possible to get adaptations to your home.

Types of adaptation you might need

The kinds of adaptations you can get depend on your circumstances. You can get your needs assessed by asking your council's social services department to carry out a care and support assessment.

Social services will look at how you cope with day-to-day living, and recommend help or equipment that might make life easier for you.

Find details of help available from your local council's social services department.

Use our accessibility checklist to see if the property suits your needs.

There are a number of sources of funding available for the adaptations that you may need. 

Access to your home

You may want to consider installing adaptations, such as:

  • a ramp for wheelchair users to get in and out of your home
  • a wheelchair lift if it isn't possible to install a ramp
  • grab rails outside the front door.

Answering the door

You could consider using:

  • a door entry intercom – to let visitors in and out, both for security and convenience. You may also wish to consider an intercom with a video screen to check out callers
  • a key safe – this is where a key is kept in a secure box outside the property and only certain people are given the code to open it. You might also consider giving spare keys to relatives, friends or neighbours.

Moving around your home

Can you move around your home with a wheelchair, or do you need adaptations to make better/or full use of your home?

If there is a wheelchair user in your household, think about:

  • widening door frames and installing new doors – if you or someone in your household uses a wheelchair
  • having everything on one floor – adapting the property to avoid someone with mobility impairment needing to go up and down the stairs
  • installing a stair lift – this may be a good solution for getting around, if your home has stairs to climb
  • another solution could be fitting a 'through-floor' wheelchair lift – this involves making a hole in the ceiling(s) and installing a lift to move between floors. However, this type of lift takes up a lot of space, and may not be suitable for smaller properties
  • second banister rails can also be installed so you can hold onto both sides to help you get up and down stairs more easily and safely.

Washing and getting dressed

Washing and dressing can get harder as you get older, and you may need specific adaptations to help you manage. There are a number of different adaptations that can make this easier, such as installing:

  • a wet room – a waterproofed room with a walk-in shower that isn't separated by a step
  • a hoist to lift you in and out of the bath
  • grab rails to make it easier to get in and out of the bath.

Emergency exits

If you or someone in your household is disabled, or has reduced mobility think about how you will get out of the property in the event of an emergency. For people with serious mobility problems, consider having your bedroom as close as possible to an exit or a safe area.

Smoke alarms

If you or someone in your household has a hearing impairment, think about installing smoke alarms with a vibrating pad or a flashing light. You could also place smoke alarms with strobe lights outside your home to get the attention of neighbours or members of the public.

Another thing worth thinking about is an emergency alarm call system – this is an alarm which plugs into your telephone and calls for outside help in the event of a fire.

In the bedroom

There are a number of adaptations you can use to get into and stay in bed, such as an adjustable bed, leg lifters or rails to stop you from falling out of bed.

Gadgets

A number of gadgets are available to people with disabilities. You can get more information and factsheets from the Disabled Living Foundation.

Tenancy rights in your home

It may not be worth you getting adaptations done if you are renting your home and you only have a short-term tenancy agreement.

If you have stronger tenancy rights or a long-term tenancy, staying in the property and getting adaptations done may be an option.

You will need to get your landlord's agreement. Some landlords may be reluctant to carry out adaptations because of the cost or because they think the adaptations may make the property harder to let in the future.

Find out more about tenancy rights if you're a council or housing association tenant or a private tenant.

Ask your landlord about adaptations

You will need your landlord's approval before any works are carried out, so contact your landlord and explain what adaptations you need and how much they will cost. Explain that it may be possible to get a grant to cover the cost. Your landlord may agree to do the adaptations or allow you to do them.

You will probably not be able to get the adaptations done if your landlord does not agree to them.

Your landlord may be able to evict you if you make alterations to the property without permission.

Use Shelter's directory to find a local advice centre if you are in this situation.

Grants to pay for adaptations

You may be able to get a council grant to cover some or all of the cost. Whether or not you get a grant depends on:

  • the reason the adaptations are needed
  • your income and capital
  • how much money the council has in its budget.

Tenants and home owners can apply for grants. Application forms are available from your council.

Find details of help available from your local council's social services department.

Foundations, the national body for not-for-profit home improvement agencies, may be able to help you find a home improvement agency in your area to help you. You may also be able to get assistance from charities or voluntary organisations.

Staying in your home during adaptations

If you want to stay in your home, social services will do their best to help you by recommending special equipment and adaptations that can be carried out at your home to make it easier for you to get around, and/or arranging for you to receive support or care at home.

If it is not possible to adapt your home so that it is suitable for your needs, or to provide you with the care you require at home, you could consider:

  • moving to a specially adapted property
  • moving to sheltered housing – where you can live independently, but with somebody looking out for you in case of emergencies
  • moving to a care home – depending on your age and disability
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