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Help with adaptations to your home

If you are elderly or disabled and it's hard to move around your home, it may be possible to get adaptations that can make things easier.

Decide what adaptations you need

Access to your home

You may want to consider 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

Opening the door

You could consider using:

  • a door entry intercom – to let visitors in and out. Some come with a video screen to check out callers
  • a key safe – where a key is kept in a secure box outside the property. You can give to code to open it to neighbours or relatives

Moving around your home

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

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

  • widening door frames and installing new doors
  • having everything on one floor to avoid having to go up and down the stairs
  • installing a stair lift
  • fitting a 'through-floor' wheelchair lift – this involves making a hole in the ceiling and installing a lift to move between floors
  • second banister rails can be installed so you can hold on to both sides of the stairs

Washing and getting dressed

You may need specific adaptations to help you manage washing and dressing. There are a number of different adaptations that can make this easier, including:

  • a wet room with a walk-in shower
  • 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

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

Look into installing smoke alarms with a vibrating pad or a flashing light if you or a household member has a hearing impairment.

You can place smoke alarms with strobe lights outside your home to get the attention of neighbours or passers-by

You could also consider installing an emergency alarm call system that plugs into your telephone and calls for outside help in the event of a fire.


Adaptations can be made to help you to get into and stay in bed, such as an adjustable bed, leg lifters or rails to stop you from falling out.


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

Options if you are a tenant

Getting adaptations done may only be a worthwhile option If you have a longer-term tenancy. Most council and housing association tenants have longer term tenancies.

It may not be worth adapting your home if you have a short-term tenancy agreement such as an assured shorthold tenancy. Most private tenants have this tenancy type.

You will need to get your landlord's agreement. Landlords must not withhold consent unreasonably. Landlords will consider the length of the tenancy, how much work is needed and if permission is needed from anyone else.

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 probably won't be able to get adaptations done if your landlord refuses to allow them. 

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

Apply for financial help

Disabled facilities grants usually cover adaptations costing between £1,000 and £30,000. You will have to contribute to the cost of the adaptations if your income is over a certain amount.

Contact your local council to apply. You will only be awarded this grant after an occupational therapist assesses your circumstances.

You can also get help from your council with equipment and adaptations costing less than £1,000. These are provided free of charge if it is decided you need them.

Another option may be home improvement agencies. If you’re older, disabled or on a low income, they could provide a handyperson service to carry out work for you.

Visit Foundations to search for a local handyperson service

Older homeowners can sometimes release equity in their home to help pay for adaptations.

Find out more from Age UK

Help to stay in your home 

If you want to stay in your home, social services will do their best to help you. They could recommend special equipment and adaptations that can be carried out at your home to make it easier for you to get around. 

The kinds of adaptation you can get depend on your circumstances. You can ask 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.
They could also arrange for you to receive support or care at home.

If it is not possible for you to stay in your home, you may need to consider moving to:

  • a specially adapted property
  • sheltered housing 
  • a care home

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

Still need help?

Use Shelter's directory to find a local advice centre if you need face to face advice from a housing or benefits adviser.

Last updated 02 Apr 2015 | © Shelter

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