Cost of daily living equipment and adaptations

Having the right equipment can support you to be more independent and reduce the need for help and support. Many such items are available from high street shops as well as dedicated mobility stores. 

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Buying your own equipment 

Living Made Easy offers information and advice on equipment which might help you. You can also use the AskSARA guide to help work out what will be most suitable for you.  Most items can be either purchased online from the website or found locally. 

Basic items of equipment can often be bought from local high street shops or mobility store.  To find your nearest mobility store, use the search bar above.  Staff at the store will help you identify the right equipment or aids for a specific task.   

You can also read online reviews and order many items online from reputable suppliers like Amazon.  This can sometimes work out cheaper, although remember to take into account the cost of delivery.  

VAT relief on products and services for disabled people

VAT relief is available on a limited range of goods and services for disabled people. To find out if you qualify, visit the gov.uk website which offers guidance and information on how to claim VAT relief.   

See examples of adaptations and equipment 

South Gloucestershire Council have an adapted house called the Celestine Home Adaptations Centre.  You can make an appointment to visit and try out different adaptations and equipment. Staff at the centre can help you decide if adaptations are required and what specific equipment would best meet your needs.   To make an appointment email psechousing@southglos.gov.uk or call 01454 868126. 

For more information on adaptations, see Adaptations to your home.

Equipment supplied by an occupational therapist  

Occupational therapists can provide equipment designed to help with everyday tasks or activities.  They cannot provide standard household equipment which is not designed for disabled people.   

The therapist will check what your needs are and what you are finding difficult.  They can then advise you on what equipment will be suitable and show you how to use it,  if needed.   The therapist will order the equipment for you to try in your home.  

All standard equipment ordered by an occupational therapist is free of charge and is on long term loan to you.  

Difference between ‘standard’ and ‘special’ equipment 

When an occupational therapist assesses your needs, they will begin by looking at the most cost effective equipment to meet your needs.  This is called ‘standard’ or basic equipment.   

If you have tried the standard equipment or the therapist feels that this will not meet your needs, they will need to look at alternatives which are more expensive. These are ‘special’ equipment orders and will be purchased as a one off.   

The therapist will arrange to visit you together with a specialist equipment representative from a local supplier. They will assess you with the item that the therapist feels may suit your needs. This ensures that money is not wasted on the wrong equipment.  If you and the therapist are happy with the equipment and it enables you to complete the task safely, the therapist will request a quotation from the company so they can order it for you.  

For certain very expensive items or items that are deemed as ‘jointly funded’ (health and social care budgets), the occupational therapist will need to justify the funds and attend a special equipment panel meeting, held monthly.  Your therapist will keep you updated on the process and how long it is likely to take.  

Equipment delivery and loans 

Once the occupational therapist has agreed to loan you equipment and has placed an order, it will usually be delivered within seven working days, unless it is an emergency and required sooner.   

Special equipment may take longer to arrange and be delivered and the equipment supplier (Medequip) will contact you to let you know when you can expect to receive it.  When the equipment is ready for delivery, Medequip will call you to arrange a suitable delivery date and either morning or afternoon.  The equipment will be labelled with the Medequip contact number 0117 9579140.  

The occupational therapist will review the equipment to ensure it meets your needs. If for any reason you are not finding it useful or have sent it back,  the therapist will look at other options with you to meet your needs.   

When you no longer need the equipment, or if you don’t find it useful, you can return it to Medequip.  Never give away items that you have been loaned, this can be dangerous as the person receiving them will not have been assessed properly.  

Direct payment to purchase specialist equipment from social care

If the occupational therapy assessment shows that you need a specific piece of equipment, but you prefer an alternative piece of equipment that meets the same need, you may be able to have a direct payment or prescription for the item. It is now mandatory for local authorities to offer the choice of direct payments. 

A direct payment is a cash payment that equals the amount it costs your local authority to supply their choice of standard equipment. You can then add your own money to this ('top-up') to buy your preferred piece of equipment. For example, your local authority may provide you with a standard hospital bed and you may wish to pay to purchase a different one. Usually, you will be the joint owner of the equipment with your local authority. 

Before you purchase any equipment through a direct payment, your local authority must be satisfied that your needs will be met by the item you have chosen and that the equipment is safe. You will also need to agree with your local authority who will be responsible for the servicing and maintenance of the equipment. After purchasing the item, you will need to provide proof of purchase and your local authority will review the equipment to ensure its safety and suitability. 

Referrals to occupational therapy  

You can refer yourself to a social care occupational therapist and request equipment, visit our Equipment to help with daily tasks pages for more information and to check if we can help.

If you require a health occupational therapist you will need to ask your GP or health care professional to make the referral to the most appropriate team.

To find out more about occupational therapy and if you need a health or social care occupational therapist visit our Occupational Therapy page.

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