Adapting your home for the disabled
If you need improvements and adaptations to your home to help you continue to live independently, you can ask the social services department of your local council to do an assessment of your home.
Usually, an occupational therapist will assess what adaptations are appropriate to meet your needs or the needs of a disabled person who lives in your home. If they agree that you need adaptations to your home, you will be awarded a Disabled Facilities Grant.
Disabled Facilities Grants
Local councils are required by law to give Disabled Facilities Grants to eligible applicants to make houses suitable for disabled people. However, you may be expected to pay some of the costs, depending on your financial circumstances.
Disabled Facilities Grants are available to owners and tenants in both private and social housing subject (in England) to a limit of £25,000.
Grants can be used on any adaptation that will make it easier for the disabled person to get into and around your home, or (for example) to provide suitably adapted kitchen and bathroom facilities or heating and heating control equipment.
Extra help that may be available
Sometimes, local councils may provide assistance such as low cost loans as well as grants to private homeowners and others to help renovate, repair or adapt their home.
They may also provide other sorts of assistance, for example helping someone move to more suitable living accommodation if it is satisfied that this would provide a similar benefit to improving or adapting the existing accommodation.
For more information, contact the Environmental Health or Housing Department of your local council.
If you adapt your home so that you, or another disabled person, can live there, you may be eligible for a one-band reduction on your Council Tax (for example, from Band D to Band C). This is particularly useful if the value of your property has increased in value as a result of the adaptation work, but it applies even if this is not the case.
If you are arranging for adaptation work to be carried out yourself, you may be able to get help from a Home Improvement Agency. They are not-for-profit organisations, which are often managed locally by councils or housing associations. They can:
* give free advice about what work needs to be done
* offer support to tenants who want to adapt their homes
* arrange to have small adaptations and equipment installed
* organise larger adaptation work
* sort out finances
* find a surveyor, architect or builder
* keep an eye on how the work is progressing
* Foundations, a national coordinating body for Home Improvement Agencies, can give you details of agencies in your area.
It's important to get planning permission and find out about building regulations before you begin any major building alterations. The following links will let you enter details of where you live and then take you to your local authority website where you can find out more.
If you decide to hire a tradesperson or builder yourself, it's important to choose someone who operates legally and is qualified for the job.