If you are elderly or disabled and cannot get around the property, or use all the facilities, it may be possible to get adaptations carried out to make your home more suitable for you.
What adaptations do I need?
You will need to know what adaptations you need before deciding whether it is possible to stay in your home. You also need to work out how much work needs to be done and how much it is likely to cost.
Things to consider include the following:
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
If there is a wheelchair user in your household, think about:
- widening door frames and installing new doors
- having everything on one floor
- installing a stair lift
- fitting a ‘through-floor’ wheelchair lift – this involves making a hole in the ceiling(s) and installing a lift to move between floors
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
There are a number of different adaptations that can make washing and dressing 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.
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.
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.
If you rent your home your landlord has responsibility to install smoke alarms. 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.
Gov.Uk have produced a fire safety leaflet for those with sight, hearing or mobility difficulties.
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.
A number of gadgets are available to people with disabilities. You can get more information and factsheets from the Disabled Living Foundation.
Do I need my landlord’s agreement to have adaptations?
If you rent your home, you will need your landlord’s agreement before any adaptations are carried out. Contact your landlord as soon as possible and explain what adaptations you need.
It is important to think about what rights you have before getting adaptations done. It may not be worth you getting them done if your landlord could evict you easily or you have a short-term renting agreement.
Can I get help to get the adaptations done?
Whether you own or rent your home, you might be able to get help for any adaptations through the ENABLE – Support for Independent Living scheme.
Under the scheme, there are three levels of adaptations:
- small – such as hand rails, portable ramps etc. These can usually be fitted for you free of charge regardless of your means.
- medium – such as stair lifts, wider doors etc. You might need to pay a contribution towards these, depending upon your income and savings.
- large – these are adaptations that need significant work on your home, such as an extension or a though-floor lift. You are likely to have to pay a contribution towards these, depending upon your income and savings. You will also need a needs assessment by social services.
For more information on the scheme, including who to contact in your area to make an application, look at the UK Government website.
Can I get a grant?
Under the ENABLE scheme, small adaptations are generally provided free of charge.
For adaptations costing over £1,000, you may be able to get a council grant, known as a Disabled Facilities Grant, to cover some or all of the cost. Disabled Facilities Grants can provide up to £36,000. Whether or not you will get a grant depends on:
- the reason the adaptations are needed
- your income and savings
- how much money the council has in its budget.
Contract-holders and homeowners can apply for grants. Application forms are available from the council.
For more information on Disabled Facilities Grants see here.
If you think you might need help paying for care and support at home, on top of any adaptations, then see our advice here.
Is moving out your best option?
If you can’t get adaptations done you may need to look into other housing options. 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.
You may be able to get help from the council if it is not reasonable for you to stay in your home. Contact a Shelter Cymru adviser who can discuss your options with you.
Where can I get more help and information?
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published a helpful guide Your rights to accessible and adaptable housing in Wales which contains lots of useful information about adapting your home, whether you are a tenant or owner.
The council’s social services department may be able to carry out a needs assessment that will include adaptations if necessary. For older and disabled people Care and Repair Cymru may be able to help you organise adaptations to your home.