Ensuring that your home is accessible may allow you to stay in your own home for longer, live more independently and to prevent hospital admissions caused by trips, falls and accidents.
Before carrying out any home adaptations, we advise you to seek advice from your Occupational Therapist (OT) who will carry out a home assessment and will make you aware of the support available from your local authority.
This step is vital because it will prevent you from spending money on unsuitable alterations and will ensure that the appropriate changes are in place or when you need them, taking into account your future needs.
You can arrange an OT home assessment through your MND Clinical Specialist.
If your home is not suitable for the kind of adaptations you require, you may need to consider moving to a more appropriate home.
If you need to move house but you are not sure how to go about this, or if you are experiencing problems gaining access to suitable accessible housing, you may wish to seek help from MND Scotland’s Advocacy Service.
Local authorities in Scotland are legally obligated to provide you with financial support for the installation of standard amenities or for ‘essential’ structural adaptations to your property.
If you are a homeowner, this includes assistance when adaptations are required to make the property suitable for a disabled person to live in.
The law states that any works undertaken to provide ‘standard amenities’ i.e. a toilet, sink, or shower, must be assisted by a grant known as a mandatory grant. However, regulations do not specify any particular types of works eligible for a mandatory grant. Therefore, each local authority can determine what it considers to be an ‘essential’ structural adaptation.
The law means that local authorities must award you a mandatory grant where the required adaptations are structural and where these are essential to a disabled person’s needs.
If the required work is eligible for a mandatory grant, everyone, regardless of income, receives a grant to cover at least 80% of the costs. Those in receipt of certain benefits may be eligible to have 100% of costs covered by the grant award.
There is no limit to the amount that can be awarded in a grant, however all adaptations must be deemed necessary by your local authority.
Private Landlords and Tenants
The law gives private sector tenants the right to carry out works to make the property they rent more suitable for a disabled person – subject to their landlord’s consent.
Your landlord can only refuse if they have a reasonable justification, for example if allowing you to adapt your rented property would mean that they were breaching some other obligation they had.
If your landlord agrees, it is within their rights to stipulate conditions, such as the standard of the works carried out. They may also stipulate that you must restore the property to its previous state before vacating.
Landlords are not required to pay for adaptations and there is no duty on landlords to carry out the structural adaptations.
If works are agreed by your landlord, and are considered necessary and involve structural changes, 80% of the costs of these works can be covered by a mandatory grant from your local authority. If you receive certain benefits, your local authority may cover 100% of the costs.
Local Authority Rent / Housing Association Tenant
If you are a local authority or housing association tenant, all essential works will be organised and paid for in full by your local authority, or the housing association, subject to approval and availability of funding.
If your local authority does not cover all of the costs of making changes to your home, MND Scotland offers an Equipment and Adaptations Grant, which could provide you with up to £1,500 towards the costs of some home adaptations.
Some adaptations will be minor while others will be more complex.
Minor alterations might include improving access to your home by installing ramps and handrails to the exterior of the house, while adaptions such as installing stair lifts, widening doorframes or converting your bathroom into a wet-room are more extensive. Installing environmental controls may also be advisable.
One of the most common adaptations an OT will recommend for your home is a ramp to allow you to get in and out of your property with ease.
Your OT may recommend installing handles, grips and bars near external doors to your home to give you extra balance and to prevent trips and falls.
If you live across two or more floors, your OT may recommend installing a stair lift in your home to increase the accessibility of your home.
Your OT may recommend converting rooms in your home so that all amenities are located on the ground floor of the home. This means that a stair lift may not be necessary, as washing and sleeping facilities are all accessible on the level.
Your OT may recommend converting your bathroom, or another room in your home, into a wet room that includes a level-access shower. The benefit of a wet room is that wash facilities become far more accessible, allowing a wheelchair to be easily moved in and out of the washing area with reduced trip hazards and manual handling for carers. Even if you currently have good mobility, your OT may recommend carrying out this adaptation so that it is ready to use if and when you need it.
Some local authorities include lowered kitchen worktops as an ‘essential’ structural change, meaning that these can be included within the mandatory grant. If you are in doubt, ask your OT about this.
You may wish to ask your OT about widening doors to allow your home to be accessible for a manual or a powered wheelchair.
Your OT may recommend a hoist to make life easier for you and your carers. A hoist is a device that can lift your body weight, moving you in and out of bed easily, for example.
Your OT may recommend some adapted control systems to make living with your disability easier. Depending on your mobility, some environmental control systems can help you operate a wide range of devices, such as your phone, bed, chairs, fans, lights, doors, and entertainment equipment.
You may be recommended to use a community alarm, which you or a loved one can use to call for help if you fall or have a problem at home.
You can arrange an OT home assessment through your MND Clinical Specialist. If you have any other queries, please contact us directly and we will endeavour to answer your questions as best we can, or we will point you in the direction to where you can get help.