Aids and equipment
Second hand equipment
Specialist equipment for adults and children
Re-using and recycling
Maintenance contracts and extended guarantees
To get an assessment, get in touch with social services (Social Work in Scotland, Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland).
Look under the name of your council in the phone book or contact a Citizens Advice Bureau or DIAL.
What can be provided and how varies from area to area. You may be asked to contribute towards costs (in which case the Council will ask for details of your financial circumstances). An assessment is usually a visit from an expert who knows what exists and can talk to you about what might help.
If you get equipment through the social or health services you will probably get an assessment automatically.
Or you can pay for a private one. For more information go to assessments.
Citizens Advice Bureau
115-123 Pentonville Road
London N1 9LZ
08444 111 444
Disability Information and Advice Line (DIAL) is an independent network of local disability information and advice services run by and for disabled people.
Every year, DIALs help over a quarter of a million disabled people. Scope provides support to the network.
For a disability-related enquiry, contact Scope's Helpline 01302 310123 and they can direct you to support available in your local area
or look online www.scope.org.uk/dial
Read about products
- Catalogues from manufactures and suppliers are well illustrated and free - see Catalogues below.
- Disabled Living Foundation (DLF) has comprehensive, independent and free information on paper, by telephone and online at www.dlf.org.uk
- Disability Now is an online magazine www.disabilitynow.org.uk
- Newsletters or magazines of large disability organisations have articles and ads for secondhand equipment.
Google to find contact details of national disability organisations
or click More information, go to the DLF, your nearest DIAL or Disability Rights UK
or go to Gov.UK the government website www.gov.uk/browse/disabilities
See products at your local DLC
Visit a Disability Living Centre (DLC) or Independent Living Centres.
These Centres give unbiased friendly and expert advice about equipment and living independently. A
A wide range of equipment is on show and experienced staff can give information and advice.
When you go you can try out equipment to help you with everyday tasks, including:
- cooking, cleaning and other household tasks
- eating and drinking
- bathing, showering, using the toilet and personal care
- seats, beds and dressing
- mobility and moving around
- hobbies and interests including gardening
- alarms that call for help automatically in an emergency
- controls that allow you to do simple things without getting up from your chair such as answer the door, draw the curtains, switch on lights, the radio or TV.
Some centres also sell equipment. They are independent of any commercial or other interest so you can rely on the information they give and they will not put you under any pressure to buy. They will tell you about any local or national services that you might find useful.
To find your nearest DLC contact Assist UK.
- Assist UK: Network of Disabled Living Centres
4 St Chad's Street
Tel: 0161 832 9757
Go to an Exhibition
- Go to an exhibition of equipment
- There are about four a year up and down the country.
- The main one is:
Greater London House
London NW1 7EJ
Tel: +44 (0)20 7728 5000
Fax: +44 (0)20 7728 4200
Visit a local specialist shop
- Check with a local DIAL or Disabled Living Centre for addresses of local shops.
- Go to a specialist shop to see a range of products on display. They range from small individual firms to national chains. In classified phone books or online, they are listed under disability equipment, medical supplies and mobility equipment.
- Or ask a local DIAL or Disabled Living Centre for addresses.
The British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) is the trade association for the healthcare industry.
It has a national membership of manufacturers and suppliers of the range of assistive technology products.
Members sign up to a Code of Practice that sets out standards that must be met.
It basically means that its members trade ethically and professionally.
BHTA: British Healthcare Trades Association
New Loom House
101 Back Church Lane
Tel: 020 7702 2141
Fax: 020 7680 4048
Many local authorities now give prescriptions for equipment rather than provide it directly. You exchange the prescription at any local accredited shop.
Even if you are buying privately it may be worth seeking out an accredited shop as they have all signed up to provide a certain standard of service. For example they may:
- have a training programme for staff
- give impartial advice
- allow you to try out the equipment in the shop
- help with installation if necessary
- deliver if necessary
- have parking nearby
Get in touch with your local authority to see if they use prescriptions and can give you a list of accredited retailers.
Talk to other people
There is no substitute for talking to other people in similar situations to find out what they have done.
You can ask questions and compare notes. Some ideas:
- Social Services: in some areas they arrange meetings for people who have been provided with equipment to get together.
- a Disability Living Centre may arrange for information sessions, or know of any that go on in the area.
- a disability organisation, who should be able to put you in touch with people in a similar situation. Whatever your impairment, there is likely to be an organisation to represent you. Some of their staff are likely to have personal experience of using equipment or may be able to put you in touch with members who have. Find out more about how to track them down. See specific information for children and adults.
- Visit an online forum:
- The UK Disability Forum
- The AgeUK Forum
- Youreble/Disabled Living Foundation forum
Many firms sell a wide range of equipment through catalogues. All these catalogues are free and well illustrated. Just looking at the photos might give you a good idea of what might be helpful, as well as providing an easy way to buying by mail order. Some catalogues are listed below.
- Ability Answers
Unit 2 Cwm Road
Hafod, Swansea SA1 2AY
Tel: 01792 412700
Fax: 01792 534 102
- Action on Hearing Loss
This charity has a specialist products team that has independent factsheets on equipment but it also sells specialist products and equipment through its Solutions catalogue. If you have a question about products, the Solutions catalogue or service contact:
1 Haddonbrook Business Centre
Tel: 01733 361199
Text: 01733 238020
Fax: 01733 361161
- Age UK Shop
1-6 Tavistock Square
Tel: 0800 169 6565
- British Red Cross Shop
Customer Service Centre
PO Box 621
Tel: 0844 89 300 90
- Force Ten
Sight and Sound Technology
Welton House(north Wing)
Summerhouse Road, Moulton Park
Northampton NN3 6WD
Tel: 01604 798070
- Hearing & Mobility
Hearing Health and Mobility Ltd
Unit 3/4 Sterling Park
Pedmore Road, Brierley Hill
West Midlands DY5 1TB
Tel: 0844 8881338
- Homecraft Rolyan
Nunn Brook Road
Sutton in Ashfield
Nottinghamshire NG17 2HU
Tel: 08444 124 330
Fax: 08448 730 100
- Nottingham Rehab Supplies
Ashby de la Zouch
Leicestershire LE65 1JG
Tel: 0845 805 2236
- Promedics Orthopaedic
Port Glasgow Industrial Estate
Scotland PA14 5XH
Tel: 01475 746400
Fax: 01475 746410
- RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People)
105 Judd Street
London WC1H 9NE
Helpline: 0303 123 9999
You can get equipment through
- social services
- health authorities (who often work with social services)
- by buying privately
Local councils are required by law to provide certain services to disabled people. These include:
- practical help at home
- aids and equipment
- adaptations at home
- providing meals
- help in getting a telephone or any equipment necessary to make it possible to use one
- help you need to use educational or recreational facilities, including help with transport
You have a right to services if you have a substantial and permanent disability, are blind or partially sighted, deaf or hard of hearing, mentally ill, or have a mental disability. You do not need to be registered as disabled to get them. But the council does have to accept that you really need them. Read our section: assessments to find tips on how to get the best from your assessment.
Equipment is provided by hospitals and through community health services, through the health workers who visit you at home.
If you are being treated in hospital and need equipment they should arrange for an assessment automatically. If the assessment shows you need equipment the NHS should provide it free. Health and social services often work together to provide equipment so that there is no gap between what the hospital provides and what can be provided by social services.
As well as equipment to make everyday life easier, hospitals and health staff who visit you at home can provide specialised health equipment. These include such things as bedpans, pressure relief mattresses, commodes, continence products and nursing equipment. All equipment provided by the health services is free. The NHS will also pay for servicing and repairs providing any faults are not due to misuse or neglect. Health service staff who advise on equipment include:
- Physiotherapists advise on mobility aids, such as walking frames and wheelchairs
- District nurses advise on the kind of equipment needed for nursing someone at home.
- Continence advisers advise on problems relating to incontinence and gives
information on a range of aids.
- Tissue viability nurses advise on pressure sores and how to avoid them.
- Occupational therapists advise on equipment needed to carry out everyday
Specialised equipment that is provided directly through the health services include wheelchairs, environmental controls (devices that allow you, for example, answer the door, draw curtains, control lights without getting up).
There is nothing to stop you going out and buying equipment like any other product. However to be able to choose wisely you need to be armed with information. See Finding out what's available at the beginning of this section for tips on how to do this and for information on how to find a local shop that sells equipment.
You do not pay VAT for products designed and made specifically for disabled people. This shouldn't be a problem as specialist shops wont charge you. More details are in VAT Notice 701/7 VAT relief for people with disabilities from:
- HM Revenue and Customs
Tel 0845 010 9000
Second hand equipment
Disability equipment is advertised second hand in mainstream publications such as Exchange and Mart. Also check newsletters produced by disability organisations, such as the ones found in More information, and the publications and websites listed below. The Disabled Living Foundation has a list of sources of second hand equipment.
Wide ranging and general information applicable to all disabilities. It has classified ads for equipment.
- Ask Des
The Disability Equipment Service lists second hand disability equipment being sold by individuals in south east England.
Rentwood, School Lane
Surrey KT22 9JX
Tel: 0800 043 9395
DisabledGear.com is a website with free classified advertisements for second hand equipment. Entries give information about the equipment on offer, and have a webform to allow you to contact the seller. Placing an advertisement is simple, once you have registered on the site.
34 High East Street
Dorchester DT1 1HA
Tel: 020 7193 1941
- Disability Equipment Register
The Disability Equipment Register (DER) is an internet-only based service of specialist equipment which is either for sale or wanted by a disabled person or members of a disabled person's family. Products are online with contact numbers for direct one-to-one buying and selling. Each list contains advertisements for equipment available or wanted and a contact telephone number.
Tel: 01454 318818
- Disability Now
A monthly magazine is now only available online and has classified ads.
- eBay is the best known online marketplace, with huge numbers of items for sale.
www.ebay.co.uk and search from there.
- The Mobility Market
Mainly lists mobility aids but has ads for other disability equipment too.
36 Liverpool Road
Manchester M30 0WA
Tel: 0161 788 8676
Fax: 0161 788 8665
- Legal rights
If you buy disability equipment, you have the same consumer rights as you do when you buy any other product.
See Consumer rights for details.
Specialist equipment for adults and children
- Disabled Living Foundation (DLF) has comprehensive information about equipment and where to get them and an exhibition of equipment in London
They have publications, a telephone information service, a products website and an online self assessment tool (SARA).
380-384 Harrow Road
London W9 2HU
Local rate Helpline: 0845 130 9177 (10am to 4pm)
Tel: 020 7432 8019
- MERU is a charity that aims to improve life for children and young people with disabilities, by designing and custom-making specialist equipment. They only help kids in London and the South East and when no ready-made solution exists already on the market.
Unit 2, Eclipse Estate
30 West Hill
Surrey KT19 8JD
Tel: 01372 725203
Fax: 01372 743159
- Foundation for Assistive Technology (FAST) has information on product research and development, new products and services,
events and the latest news in assistive technology.
302 Tower Bridge Business Centre
46-48 East Smithfield
London E1W 1AW
Tel: 0300 330 1430
Fax: 020 7709 2068
- Remap has a nationwide network of volunteers who design and make individual items of equipment for disabled people. They have 85 panels in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. If you have a problem and no equipment exists to help you solve it, contact your local panel. To find it get in touch with:
REMAP England, Wales & N.Ireland
D9 Chaucer Business Park
Kent TN15 6YU
Tel: 0845 130 0456
Fax: 01732 760204
- REMAP Scotland
Re-using and Recycling Equipment
You may want to pass on equipment to someone else. However, it may need
- servicing or repair if it does, arrange it with the supplier or manufacture
- cleaning and disinfection. Equipment that that may have come into contact with blood or other body fluids need disinfecting.
Check with your local health or social services if there is a cleaning and reconditioning services in your area.
If not it may be worth trying local charities such as Age Concern or a disability organisation to see if they have any ideas or can help.
If you have a large piece of equipment such as a stairlift contact the manufacturer.
If the equipment cannot be used by anyone else, it may be possible to recycle its materials. Contact your local council to find out about the local recycling facilities.
Retailers or manufacturers will often offer you a maintenance contract or extended guarantee. You need to think carefully about these. Much depends on how much of a risk taker you are.
Some points to consider:
- think about how likely the product is to go wrong. Most electronic products are pretty reliable these days. If the risk of breakdown is small you will probably spend less if you pay for repairs as they happen
- you may think peace of mind and having no unexpected expenses are worth paying extra for
- to make comparison ask the supplier what they charge for repairs outside the contract and if the agreement includes free regular service visits
- also ask if you would get a priority or faster service this might be worth having. A maintenance contract or extended guarantee may be a better proposition for equipment on which you are dependant and which would seriously disrupt your life if it was out of action for a long period.
Next Page: Money and finances