Equipment and adaptations for children with disabilities

If you are a parent or carer of a disabled child there are types of equipment that can support your child in their day to day life and can help to make your home a safer place to live.

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Specialist equipment 

Specialist equipment is available for children and young people with a disability or additional needs, both with or without an Education Health and Care (EHC) plan.    Equipment is essential for some children and young people to live their life within their community, home or education setting. Equipment or adaptations may be funded by:

  • statutory services if assessed and the criteria met
  • the family directly (privately purchased)
  • through charitable organisations

If statutory service is required to assess this may be carried out by one or two of a number of professionals depending on the equipment being considered.  This assessment will take place either at home, in an education setting or in a specialist clinic depending on the equipment required.  There is also a possibility that a representative from the company where the equipment is provided may be involved. 

Equipment for Care needs within the home

The Disabled Children’s Occupational Therapy (OT) service supports disabled children and their families to live safely and independently in their own homes. The service can help children or young people to use essential facilities in their home including access to their home and to specific areas such as the bathroom, sleeping and living areas.   Home assessments can also be done to look at making the home safer, where a child is at risk in their environment due to behaviour that is challenging.

Your child must have a long-term disability impacting upon their daily life in order to access this service. 

To ask for an assessment you should contact the Access and Response Team on 01454 866000 to arrange an assessment.   For young people aged 18 + you will need to contact the Adults Access and Response team on 01454 868007.

After an assessment of your child's needs, the OT will agree an action plan with you and your child. This may include:

  • advice and guidance; for example, this could be around alternative methods of managing daily living tasks
  • provision of equipment such as supportive seating, or a mobile hoist and slings for safe manual handling
  • provision of minor adaptations:  For example, grab handles in the bathroom to help get in/out of the bath safely and independently
  • provision of major adaptations via a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG):  An example would be building a level access shower room in the family home.  An OT assessment is needed in order to access DFG funding. 

The 0-25 disability service will work with other agencies. These agencies include social workers and health professionals such as doctors, physiotherapists, Community Children’s Health Partnership (CCHP) occupational therapists, and speech and language therapists.  Other agencies can also be involved such as education staff, housing related agencies, equipment providers and the voluntary sector.

Health equipment

The health commissioners fund clinical equipment through the Children’s continuing care  or Continuing healthcare budget for adults .Those eligible who need equipment such as ventilators, oxygen saturation monitors, or suction units, as well as the disposables that go alongside them. 

Other equipment maybe available through community health services such as Children’s Occupational Therapists who work for Community Children's Health Partnership (CCHP).  These therapists work with children to develop their functional skills; For example they may help a child to develop their ability to use their hands for self-feeding.  Specialist seating for schools is also assessed by Health OT 

 Physiotherapy equipment for home and school for example – walkers/ standing frames / postural support for sleeping are assessed for by health Physiotherapy Team.

Certain equipment is also available from the Bristol Centre for Enablement which a GP or health service will refer you to.

The Bristol Centre for Enablement (BCE) is based near Cribbs Causeway. Services provided here include:

  • Prosthetics
  • Orthotics
  • Wheelchairs & Special Seating
  • Wheelchair Repair
  • Electronic Assistive Technology Service
  • AAC West Service

Education equipment

Some children with special educational needs may need additional equipment to help them with their learning. The Equality Act 2010 means that a school or education setting must make reasonable adjustments so that your child can fully participate in education.

If your child receives SEN support the school’s notional budget will allow schools to purchase some equipment to support your child’s learning to promote independent learning. Alternatively, you may decide to purchase some resources to help your child.

Some examples of equipment can be found on the following websites

TTS Group

LDA Learning Group

If your child has an EHCP, equipment may be written within the plan. An assessment will identify the equipment that may be required.  The type of equipment will depend on the assessed needs of your child. A report will be written to explain reasons why your child  needs it, and the benefit for your child by the relevant specialist. This report will be used as evidence within your a child’s education health and care plan.

The equipment is often joint owned by the local authority and health. The equipment remains in school and it is the school’s responsibility to look after it; keep it clean and use it as advised by the Specialist Teacher or other professional.

Any Equipment provided by health/social care/ education remains their property.

Equipment provided is usually recycled (whenever possible), and therefore must be returned to the local authority so that another child or young person can use it if:

  • the child/young person does not need it anymore
  • the child/young person moves out of South Gloucestershire 

Equipment is stored and repaired/recycled by another provider. Currently the company providing this service is Medequip. This may change in the future. 

Charitable funding for children's equipment

Equipment and/or adaptations for your child may not be provided by statutory services. There are organisations or charitable funding that you could apply for. Freedom for Kids has an A-Z list of charitable organisations who can provide funding for children's equipment.

Further reading

Contact a national charity for families with disabled children have produced a guide about equipment and adaptations.

Contact details

Duty Telephone Line: 01454 865137

For all enquiries about an EHC needs assessment, annual reviews and provision for pupils with EHC plans please contact Jennie Mackenzie, Team Manager for the EHCP team:

For all enquiries about school placements please contact Jane Whitworth, Commissioning Manager for Inclusion and SEND:

For general enquiries regarding SEND, including SEN Support Services, please contact Will Pritchard, Strategic Lead for inclusion and SEND: