Many people who live with chronic conditions such as CRPS, CFS/ME, Fibromyalgia or chronic pain can struggles with mobility and so might use mobility aids, such as walking sticks, crutches, canes, wheelchairs, braces. There are also accessibility aids that can be used around the home to assist with daily living.
This page on mobility and accessibility equipment will give you some suggestions for various disability equipment and aids for around the home as well as outside. We will cover where you can buy disability-related products, how to use them, and any disability grants or other ways of paying for equipment and aids. There are also some self-help guides and guides to buying.
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If you would like to make any vital changes at home and live with a disability, you can apply for a grant from your local council. The Disabled Facilities Grants help towards the costs of making changes to your home so you can continue to live there. Possible changes that might need to be made include:
The amount you can claim depends on where in the UK you live. As it is a means tested grant, it will also depend on your household income and household savings over £6,000. The claimable amounts are:
Visit the Government website for full details of how to apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant, where you will find the necessary information. You can then get an an application form from the housing or environment health department of your local council. The council will normally need two written estimates for the work that you need the grant to to fund. They may be able to provide you with a list of builders or offer advice about employing one.
If you have decided to buy disability equipment privately - perhaps because you need it quickly, you want greater choice, or you’re spending your own personal care budget - below is information on how and where to shop around for the most suitable product at the cheapest price.
An Occupational Therapist (OT) or physiotherapist can best advise you on whether a particular piece of disability equipment or adaptation is likely to meet your needs.
You can ask for an assessment by an Occupational Therapist (OT) or physiotherapist through:
It’s a good idea to spend some time deciding what you want from the disability product you’re buying. You may find it helpful to jot down a checklist of your requirements.Your health and social care assessment can help to establish your specific needs and could include an assessment by an Occupational Therapist (OT) to instruct on the various types of equipment you might need.
Other considerations, alongside your personal needs, might be:
If you have financial worries concerning any mobility or disability equipment or you are struggling at home with your mobility, contact your GP, physio or Occupational Therapist (OT) to assess your needs. You can also have a look at NHS Wheelchair Services (England) and there is the possibility of borrowing independent living aids on a short term basis from the Red Cross and the Independent Wheelchair Voucher Scheme.
The Independent Wheelchair Voucher Scheme is there for when you don’t wish to take up the offer of an NHS wheelchair. The scheme begins with an assessment of your wheelchair needs, usually undertaken by someone from your local Wheelchair Services department. Find your local Wheelchair Services or visit the NHS Directory of Services.
Someone will be sent to assess you, either a local Occupational Therapist (OT) or someone else from Wheelchair Services. Please be prepared that there is a set procudure that Wheelchair Services must follow, which could take a number of weeks or a few months to conclude.
You need to choose a wheelchair company who are on the approved list of wheelchair providers with your Wheelchair Services department. Once you receive your voucher, which could be for as little as £50 or as much as £1600 depending on your individual mobility needs and also the scheme from your local Wheelchair Services, you can then go out and purchase your new wheelchair.
Equipment and aids can be provided to assist you with daily living. Examples of common equipments and aids are:
Buying a wheelchair for the first time can be a daunting prospect. There are so many different types and terminology that can baffle some people. However, Gerald Simmonds have produced a very useful guide, 'An Impartial Guide to Buying A Wheelchair', which provides an insight into how to buy a wheelchair, the advantages and disadvantages, and the points and features to consider when making a purchase. There is also a good rnage of mobility equipment on their webiste, including wheelchairs.
Many people will have several wheelchairs of varying costs in their lifetime and there are many, many places where you can buy a wheelchair from, but it all depends on your budget because wheelchairs can be very expensive. There are manual wheelchairs, powered wheelchairs, and even a system like the Benoit that turns your manual wheelchair to a powered on by using a light drive system that simply attaches to your manual chair. The QUICKIE wheelchairs are popular and can be bought from a number of places both online and from a Mobility Shop.
RGK Wheelchairs have a fantastic range of bespoke manual wheelchairs, including the TIGA FX, a manual folding wheelchair that folds down to the size of an airline storage bin. The RGK wheelchairs are completely bespoke, which means that they are built for you. Rather than off-the-shelf wheelchairs that are then adapted for you, everything is built individually from scratch. All the salesmen are wheelchair bound so you get advice from people who actually know.
VELA Activity Chairs are the perfect solution for anyone wanting to promote independence in school, college, university or at home. If you are interested in trying one of their chairs or would like to find out more, contact Chris Marshall.
If you need help in paying for a wheelchair, contact your Adult Social Services department to ask for a Needs Assessment or ask for an Independent Wheelchair Voucher to help you to purchase your own.
This is only applicable in England and Wales. Outside of England and Wales, contact your local council to find out more about the help available.
Sunrise Medical offer a range of options and sell from lots of companies.
There are many different types of mobility scooter and this could probably be a whole page on its own! If you receive the higher rate mobility of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), the enhanced rate of the mobility part of Personal Independence Payment (PIP), or the War Pensioners’ mobility supplement then you are able to use this towards the cost of leasing your mobility scooter under the Motability scheme.
If you don't want to use your benefits in the Motability scheme, you can purchase the scooter yourself, although this can be quite expensive, especially for the lightweight models.
Check out Motability's range of scooters and powered wheelchairs.
You aren't restricted to stick to the NHS steel grey crutches and sticks to help you walk! There are many companies who sell all different colours, shapes, sizes, open and closed cuffs, folding, and more.
Chic Aid in Leeds sell a wide range of crutches. Care Co sell the grey crutches, ferrules (the rubber on the bottom of your sticks and crutches), as well as all kinds of mobility aids. The Stick & Cane shop offer all types of walking sticks and canes.
Again, these aids come in various shapes, sizes and types. There are models with seats on, baskets attached, wides ones, stick seats, and options for 2-3-4 wheels... The Ability Superstore have a huge range of mobility and living aids.
Being confined to a wheelchair or bed bound can brings its own health problems, such as bed or pressure sores that need to be addressed as soon as possible, which is why Occupational Therapists ensure your comfort and health are always dealt with from the outset.
Opera Care (formerly known as Alpine HC) have created an excellent resource entitled 'The Complete Guide to Pressure Ulcers (Bed Sores)' and they also offer a range of pressure relieving seating and pressure relieving mattresses.
Pressure relieving mattresses are specially designed to relieve as much pressure from your body as possible. So, if you spend long periods in bed due to mobility problems or CRPS, then a pressure relieving mattress is essential for your comfort and your health. Learn more from the Opera Pressure Care Buying Guide.
Profiling beds can also be known as hospital profiling beds, care beds, medical beds, disability beds, electric beds and adjustable beds. It is a bed that is used to assist in the care of disabled and chronically ill individuals. There are a number of different types of profiling bed as well as a number of different heights.
Choosing the right profiling bed is very important, especially if you are using the bed most of the time. Learn more about the different types of profiling beds from Opera Care and check out the Opera Profiling Bed Buying Guide.
If you have CRPS in your upper limbs then writing, using a computer or using a mobile device can be difficult. Here are some apps and software that may help you with using a phone, mobile or your computer:
If you own an iPhone, iPad or Mac then you will already have Apple’s Siri-powered, built-in dictation. By default, you can dictate up to 30 seconds while you are connected to the Internet, using Siri’s servers to detect and translate what you say. This is useful if it is a quick note rather than a longer note or essay. (Esposito, E. 2017)
Read the 'Beginners Guide to Dictation Software: The Best Apps for Voice to Text Productivity' to learn more. Burning Nights CRPS Support also have an infographic on Making The Internet More Accessible For All.
If you live in England & Wales and you live in a council house or flat, you are able to get help with your gardening and garden maintenance if you are elderly or disabled. For those living in Wales (Cymraeg), Scotland and Northern Ireland, it is advisable to contact your local authority to find out about local schemes.
Hopefully, this page on Disability Equipment has helped you to understand more about the world of mobility aids, disability grants, help around the home and using your mobile, laptop or computer.
If you have your own suggestions for different equipment and aids to be used around the house and for mobility or any shops that sell mobility equipment that are not featured on this page, please get in touch! Send us an email or fill in the contact form.
Read more about Disability Access
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Last Updated: 14/10/2020