Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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Guide to home alteration

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This article has information on issues surrounding home alteration.

Things to consider

Some people want to know about what housing adaptations they may need in the future a long time in advance of needing them, whilst others prefer not to think about this until they need to. This article will help answer some common questions and give advice on where you can seek further help.

When should I ask about alterations to the home?

In general it is best to highlight any problems you are having with getting around your home and accessing all the facilities within the home as soon as possible.

Problems you might be having include:

  • getting in and out of the house
  • getting up and down stairs
  • getting in and out of bed
  • getting on and off of the toilet
  • standing up from the armchair or sofa
  • reaching items you need in the kitchen
  • carrying items around the house.

If you have any of these problems, it would be worth seeking advice from an Occupational Therapist.

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Who should I ask about problems with the house?

An Occupational Therapist is someone who can advise you on the most suitable and cost-effective adaptations to your home to make your life easier and more comfortable. Therapists who can assist you with housing adaptations usually work for your County Council's Adult Social Care Service. They can visit you at home and advise you on what adaptations you may need. You need to be referred to the Occupational Therapist, which can be done by any healthcare professional, or you can refer yourself. As with most health and social services there is a great demand on resources, so you may be placed on a waiting list for an assessment, although many areas fast-track people living with motor neurone disease. There is an Occupational Therapist at the Oxford MND Centre (Jenny Rolfe) who can discuss issues you may be having and refer you to your local community therapist.

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How much equipment will I need?

This will depend on your requirements which are most likely to change over time. You may find a piece of equipment helpful at some point in your condition and then useless later down the line. It is important for you to stay in touch with your Occupational Therapist so that your needs can be met as they change over time.

What changes will I need to make to the house?

People's needs vary as do the size and shape of the property they live in, so it is not possible to say exactly what changes you will need to make to your home. Some problems can be solved with changing a technique for a particular activity or using a simple piece of equipment. You may not need to have any alterations to the home. In general, things to consider are access in and out of the property and within it. So you may need some rails or additional steps built and at some point there may be a need to look at wheelchair accessibility. If you live in a two or more storey house you need to consider how you will access the different floors. You may need an additional stair rail, a stair lift or a through floor lift. In some circumstances you may decide to change the layout of your home so that your bedroom is on the ground floor. Changes may need to be made in the bathroom to make accessing facilities like the bath / shower easier. This could be with the addition of rails or a bath lift or require a level access shower or wet room to be fitted. There are different types of toilet seats and toilets with self washing features that may also be appropriate.

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Who will pay for any housing adaptations?

There are grants available through the statutory services and once you have been assessed by your community Occupational Therapist and your needs identified the cost of the grants procedures are then considered. There can be funds available for some minor changes which do not need to have a grant and your local therapist will be able to advise you of this. A grant can be applied for larger and more costly adaptations. Grants are means-tested and you may be asked to contribute to some or all of the cost of the adaptations. You may also qualify for all of the cost of the adaptations so it is best to get advice from your community Occupational Therapist. It may also be possible to seek financial assistance from the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

How long will adaptations take?

Once your needs have been identified, and funding is in place, work on the alterations can commence. The grant procedure can take some time although in some areas efforts are made to fast track applications for people who are living with motor neurone disease. As you may also have had a waiting time for your community occupational therapistís assessment it is better to plan ahead as far as is practical and as soon as you are experiencing difficulties rather than waiting until you can no longer manage.

Further information

If you have any questions or would like to discuss your needs in more detail you can contact Jenny Rolfe, Occupational Therapist at the Oxford MND Centre, or your local Adult Social Care Services.

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