Adaptations like grab rails, ramps, stair lifts etc can be life savers for older people but organising and paying for them is not always straightforward. Luckily, when someone is elderly or disabled, there is support available to provide financial or practical help for home improvements.
The likelihood is that your local Home Improvement Agency might be able to help. Alternatively you can contact your local authority directly to explore the possibility of being awarded a Disabled Facilities Grant.
Home Improvement Agencies
Home Improvement Agencies (HIAs) are local, trusted organisations that help older, disabled and vulnerable people to live a good life for longer. They are usually “not-for-profit” organisations run by housing associations, local authorities and charities.
HIAs offer reliable information and advice and support people to make home improvements or modifications as their health and needs change, especially in later life. These adaptations can be instrumental in helping older people continue to live at home.
HIAs vary across the country. There are nearly 200 HIAs in England, sometimes known as Care & Repair or Staying Put schemes. They are often linked to local authorities. The majority (82%) of areas have one.
The scope of support varies between HIAs, but can include:
- Enabling financial support towards the costs of providing adaptations and facilities to enable a disabled person to continue to live in their home
- Practical support with organising adaptations eg drawing up plans, getting estimates and liaising with others involved in the work, such as council grants officers and occupational therapists
- Support with home repairs or odd jobs - eg providing a "handy person" service to help with odd jobs such as putting up curtains or moving furniture
- Making homes more energy efficient - installing insulation, efficient light bulbs etc to keep costs down
- Welfare and benefits advice
- Helping to get someone discharged home after a hospital stay - some HIAs work closely with discharge teams and occupational therapists to arrange rapid-response adaptations
- Impartial advice and information about housing options to help older people achieve the outcome best suited to their needs
This video will give you a flavour of what can be done although it is key to appreciate that the HIA offer varies between providers. However, even if the HIA near you (your parent/s) does not offer a service they might be able to signpost you to something appropriate. Some HIA services are means tested or prioritised according to levels of vulnerability.
Financial support - the disabled facilities grant
A disabled facilities grant is available from your local authority for work that is essential to help a disabled person live an independent life. The level of financial support is likely to be means tested.
The grant can cover home modifications which help to make it easier or safer for you to:
- get in and out of your home, for example, by widening doors or providing ramps
- get to a living room, bedroom, toilet, bathroom or kitchen, for example, by putting in a stairlift, or providing a downstairs bathroom
- get access to your garden
The grant can also cover essential work to:
- Provide suitable bathroom or kitchen facilities
- Provide or improve a heating system
- Ensure your safety eg with better lighting
This video will give you a flavour of the disabled facilities grant and how it can be used: