Caring for a disabled child can sometimes be made easier with the use of certain aids and equipment. Some items such as mobility aids or special beds are expensive and the range available is vast. This information is about the main sources of equipment and where to go for further advice.
Who provides equipment?
The main sources of equipment are from the health service, your local authority's children's services or social services department and from the education department.
In general, social services are responsible for providing equipment for daily living and non-medical needs, and your health authority is responsible for providing equipment to meet nursing or medical needs. In addition, equipment to help a child access the curriculum may be arranged by a school or local education authority.
You can apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant 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 - eg stair lifts or a downstairs bathroom
- provide a heating system suitable for your needs
- adapt heating or lighting controls to make them easier to use
Family Fund can also provide equipment if your child meets the criteria.
Many families are finding that equipment and/or adaptations for their children cannot be funded by statutory services and are therefore seeking alternative funding means - particularly charitable funding. To assist you in these situations, the Disabled Living Foundation have listed a range of national charities including Caudwell Children, Family Fund, Family Action, Lifeline 4 Kids and Whizz Kidz. However - before you seek charitable funding (or buy) equipment for your child, we would advise you to seek specialist advice. This will help you plan for both immediate and long term needs, will increase awareness of the alternatives on the market, and to check whether the equipment you need can be provided by the statutory services (if this hasn't already been investigated). Furthermore, most applications require the support of a qualified health or medical professional.
In addition to this, the latest edition of 'A guide to grants for individuals in need' is published by the Directory of Social Change, and should be available in your local library.
You can also search for charities on the website, Turn 2 Us: www.turn2us.org.uk.
Both your local health authority and your local social services department provide aids and equipment to disabled people. Under section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 (England and Wales) a local authority has a duty to provide practical assistance and additional facilities designed to secure greater safety, comfort or convenience to those people assessed as needing them.
Who to contact
In the first place, you should contact your social worker if you have one or contact your GP and tell them about the kind of help you're looking for. You can also approach other healthcare or personal care professionals such as the district nurse, physiotherapist or school nurse. In Bexley, please contact Inspire Community Services for more information.
- Offers impartial advice and information on choosing and buying equipment for daily living.
- Equipment Shop - please call 020 3045 5387.
- "Try and buy" Living Solutions equipment by appointment only.
- Bexley Wheelchair Service provides a comprehensive service and expert knowledge for people of all ages with long-term mobility problems
- Stocks RADAR keys, books and equipment e.g. hand reacher, grab rails etc
Assessing you and your child's needs
An occupational therapist (OT) or social worker will usually visit you in your home to discuss the situation further and carry out the assessment. An OT is a professional who can advise on equipment for daily living and managing more easily within the home.
When you're visited by the OT or social worker it is important that your needs as a carer and those of other family members are taken into account. This includes any health and safety concerns. If your child also needs equipment to help with medical or health needs then a joint assessment should be carried out and the social worker or OT may contact the community nursing service or your GP.
Where a need is identified, the social worker or OT must then consider ways of meeting that need. This may include practical advice about doing things differently in order to make things easier, providing aids and equipment, and/or arranging alterations to the house.
Contact - for further information you can download the free parent guide from Contact: Aids, equipment and adaptations.
You can also request a free hard copy of this guide and speak to Contact experts for further advice by calling their freephone national helpline on 0808 808 3555.
Disabled Living Foundation
DLF is a national charity providing impartial advice, information and training on equipment for independent living since 1969. It is a founder member of the Information Standard, a certification scheme for health and social care information.
DLF factsheets provide general advice on a range of daily living equipment such as features to look for when choosing equipment, and where to get further information.
Inspire Community Trust Living Solutions
50 High Street, Sidcup, Kent, DA14 6EH
0208 300 6038
LIVING SOLUTIONS is an equipment shop which is now open in Sidcup High Street offering impartial advice and support to help people with disabilities purchase suitable equipment at a competitive price to aid daily living in the home.