Funding Home Improvements for Improved Safety – Adaptive Living

Posted on March 16, 2017
Funding Home Improvements for Improved Safety – Adaptive Living
7 min read

In this guide, we will be exploring the different home improvements you may consider and how you can finance them. From local authority aid to external agencies, where there’s a will, there’s a way!

During periods of care many people require modifications to be made to their home. Adaptive living makes your home more accessible, allowing you to complete daily tasks and also enabling you to remain in your home happily and safely. Research has shown that remaining in your own home often provides better health outcomes and sometimes these small home improvements can make this a reality.

From aids and adaptations to assistive technology, including simple things such as handrails, personal alarms and medication dispensers, to more complicated interventions such as level access showers and stair lifts, there are numerous adjustments that could help you or your loved one feel safer and more secure at home

Paying for home improvements and assistive technology may at first seem unaffordable, however there are many routes you can take to help finance these modifications.

Contents

  • Aids and Adaptations

  • Assistive Technology: Telecare

  • Local Authority Support

  • Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG)

  • Home Improvement Agencies (HIAs)

  • Other ways to fund adaptations and equipment

Aids and Adaptations

We all want to stay in our home and live independently for as long as possible and by making some simple changes to our homes this can become a reality.

Home improvements could be recommended by a doctor or simply advised by friends and family, or even by your local authority during a Support and Needs Assessment.

Aids and adaptations may target these different aspects of daily life:

  • Moving around your home

  • Getting up and down stairs

  • Getting up and dressed

  • Washing, bathing, and using the toilet

  • In the kitchen

They may also help if you are living with any of the following:

  • Sight problems

  • Hearing loss

  • Combined hearing and sight loss

  • Memory loss

Minor adaptations are small home improvements to the home of a disabled person that allow them to live independently. These may include:

  • Hand rails or grab rails

  • Lever taps

  • Bathing equipment

  • Police approved key safe

Major adaptations are permanent works to the home of an individual with permanent or substantial disability. These may include:

  • Bathroom conversion to install a level access shower

  • Access ramps and wheelchair lifts

  • Stair lifts

  • Widening doorways for wheelchair users

  • Installing low level kitchen units

Assistive Technology: Telecare

Beyond aids and adaptations, assistive technology, also known as telecare and telehealth, is widely available to improve the safety and quality of vulnerable elderly people’s lives. When incorporated into a personal care place, these technologies can transform people’s lives – and those who care for them. It also allows reliable care to be provided at home without vast numbers of staff, which is preferable to many families and the elderly.

There are lots of choices available to meet your needs. These technologies are often complex systems that can be used with simple gestures: touchscreen, voice, gestures, waving, tapping.

Examples of telecare that you may want to consider, include:

  • Safety monitors and home care alerts

  • Emergency bracelets for falls

  • Tracking devices to keep you loved from wandering or to locate them if they go missing – they may also include a panic button

  • Door alarms which send an alert if your loved one leaves

  • Chair alarms if you loved one leaves their chair when you aren’t in the room with them

  • Enuresis sensor to help identify if your loved one experiences urinary incontinence during the night

  • Fall detectors

  • Cold monitors

  • Pill dispensers

  • Door entry intercom

Local Authority Support

Your local authority must provide community equipment and minor adaptations to your home free of charge. In England, specialist disability equipment is provided free of charge if recommended by the local authority after your assessment. An example of this could be the provision of a mobile hoist to enable safe assisted transfers in and out of bed.

Following your assessment, if the adjustments are minor (less than £1,000) then social services should fund the changes. Search online for your local branch and ensure you speak with your local GP on how to make sure this happens. This includes aids and minor adaptations to the home costing less than £1,000, which are provided and fitted free of charge. However, you may be entitled to greater funds depending on your financial situation.

If the adjustments recommended will cost more than £1,000 your parent can apply to the local council to help with the costs. This may not always work, but it is certainly worth a try. your local authority may be required to pay for it depending on your circumstances.

If following your care assessment, the local authority decides that you are don’t have any eligible needs, they won’t provide you with any equipment or adaptations but must still give you free information and advice, such as on where to buy equipment.

Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG)

DFGs are administered and paid for by your local authority’s housing department and you can usually only receive one for work that your local authority has assessed you as needing. Moreover, your local authority has a legal duty to provide a DFG for adaptations in certain circumstances. They also come with the additional bonus of being available to renters as well as homeowners. If your loved one is registered as disabled, they can apply to receive a DFG. Thus, if your loved one is eligible for one, it could make a significant improvement to their life.

How which will you get?

It’s a means-tested grant and there is an upper limit on how much you can receive but it won’t affect any benefits you receive. Your local council will also take into account any savings over £6,000. Your local authority may then offer a contribution towards or cover the full cost of changes. In England it is possible to receive up to £30,000. If you’re a council tenant, the council should pay for major adaptations that you’ve been assessed as needing. The work must also be reasonable and be able to be done - depending on the age and condition of the property.

Adaptations You could get a grant from your council if you’re disabled and need to make changes to your home, for example to:

  • Widen doors and install ramps

  • Improve access to rooms and facilities – e.g. stair lifts or a downstairs bathroom

  • Provide a heating system suitable for your needs

  • Adapt heating or lighting controls to make them easier to us

Eligibility

To be eligible for a DFG you or someone living in your property must:

  • Be disabled

  • Own the property or be a tenant

  • Intend to live in the property during the grant period (which is currently 5 years)

  • Be a landlord and have a disabled tenant

Payment

You will either be paid in instalments as the work progresses or be paid in full when the work is finished. The council will then either pay the contractor directly or give you a cheque to pass on to them – the mode of payment will be agreed upon when they approve the application. To receive payment, the council must be satisfied that the finished work is necessary and appropriate to meet the disabled person’s needs.

You can apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant through your local council. To find out more about DFGs and how to apply, just click here.

Home Improvement Agencies (HIAs)

Home Improvement Agencies help elderly people make adaptions to their home to allow them live as independently as possible. They not only offer invaluable advice and support, but can sometimes offer funding in their mission to help the elderly live with dignity.

HIAs provide support for vulnerable homeowners or people living in private rented accommodation by offering practical help with adaptations, such as arranging a survey, getting estimates for the work, applying for local authority assistance (including Disabled Facilities Grants) and supervising the work to completion. Even if you can afford to pay for the work yourself, a HIA can help relive a lot of the strain of organising home improvements. Some HIAs even run a handyperson scheme to help with small repairs, such as fitting handrails.

To find out whether there is an HIA in your area, contact your local council’s housing department. To find your local HIA, you can also check out the following links:

Age UK is the UK’s largest charity dedicated to helping everyone make the most out of later life. They have over 70 local Age UK branches that operate handyperson services across much of the country. These are usually charged-for services, the cost of which depends on the nature of the work required.

Other ways to fund adaptations and equipment

Equity Release

The term equity release refers to the various ways in which income can be generated from your parents’ home. It allows cash to be released from the home without the hassle of having to move.

Boost your income

Make sure you check whether your entitled to any other benefits. Many people who need help with care will qualify for a disability benefit – either Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance depending on their age. Neither benefit is means-tested so your income and savings won’t be taken into account.

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