Equipment and changes to your home
Different types of equipment or changes to your home could help make your home safer, your life easier and provide independence for the person you are looking after.
Before purchasing any equipment it’s a good idea to have an assessment with an occupational therapist who will offer an independent opinion and advice on what might be suitable to meet your needs and those of the person you look after. Ask your general practitioner (GP) to advice you.
In the meantime, we’ve put together a list of room by room ideas including items of equipment (such as a raised toilet seat), smaller adaptations (such as fitting grab rails), and larger adaptations (such as installing a wet room).
- If you have difficulty turning taps on and off you may wish to consider installing single lever taps which control both temperature and flow rate. Some of these taps are also thermostatically controlled for increased safety. You can also get taps which turn on automatically when you put your hands under them so these could be an option too.
- Alternatively, tap turners can be purchased to assist the person you are looking after to operate your existing conventional taps. The advantage of these is that they can be used if you are away from home.
- If the person you’re caring for cannot stand up for long periods to carry out tasks such as washing up or ironing, a perching stool may be useful.
- To make cooking easier and safer for the person you care for you might like to try: using non-slip mats on the worktop to stop things from sliding around, using lightweight pots and pans which are easier to lift, cooking vegetables in a steamer or a basket in a pan so that boiling water can be left to cool.
- Simple things you can do straight away without needing to purchase any equipment include: storing regularly used kitchen equipment and utensils between hip and eye level and storing heavy dishes inside a carrier bag to make lifting them out of the cupboard easier.
- If the person you are caring for struggles to stand to take a shower then you may wish to obtain a shower bench so that they can shower sat down. Similarly a bath board can make getting in and out of the bath easier as can a hoist which can be fitted inside the bath.
- To make it safe for the person you care for to take a bath, use a rubber bathmat and fit grab rails to the wall and the side of the bath so that they have something to support them when they are getting in and out.
- Something as simple as removable shower head can aid with rinsing.
- To help the person you care for get on and off the toilet you can get a raised toilet seat which fits over your existing one. Grab rails at the side of the toilet can also be helpful, or a toilet seat with built in arm rests or a mobile commode.
- An occupational therapist can show you the best way to get the person you care for in and out of bed however, to make things easier, you can also raise the height of the bed with special bed raisers.
- A bed lever attached to the side of the bed can also help the person you look after to sit up and lie down more easily. These are portable so you can also use them when you are away from home.
- Something as simple as a reacher can make a host of everyday tasks easier for someone with a disability – such a picking things up off the floor or from high up on a shelf.
- A decent chair with arms is easier to get up from than a sofa, and if the arms do not have any gaps at the side, this makes pushing up from them easier and means that nothing can slip through them and on to the floor. Chair raisers can be fitted if your current chair is too low and the person you care for struggles to get in and out of it. Never use cushions to raise the height of the seat as this can be bad for your back.
- If there is a step into your home, or into any of your rooms, a handle on the door frame can be helpful, or you could add an extra half step to reduce the height.
- If it is a lot of effort for the person you care for to answer the door, or if they can’t do it at all, you might want to consider installing a doorbell system that enables them to speak (and possibly see) the person at the door and let them in remotely.
- If the person you care for needs a wheelchair and there are steps into your home you may want to install a ramp, or have temporary ones available that can also be used when you are away from home and you may need to think about having doorways widened to accommodate the wheelchair.
- A second banister on the stairs could help the person you look after balance when they are going up and down or you might wish to consider the installation of a stair lift.