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31 July 2023

Adapting homes to suit disabilities

This page will be updated with new information every Monday throughout this month, check back next week for the next installment.

Sustaining a disabling injury can be life-changing, with even the simplest of tasks becoming incredibly difficult.

Week one: introduction – adapting homes to suit disabilities

Sustaining a disabling injury can be life-changing, with even the simplest of tasks becoming incredibly difficult. Alongside the support of rehabilitation work, it is sometimes necessary for an individual with a newly-acquired disability to make adaptations to their home to suit their new needs and suitabilities.

We are often able to obtain interim payments for our clients before the final settlement of the claim. This money can then be used to arrange home adaptations or a move to suitable accommodation, to improve our clients’ quality of life and independence as soon as possible.

The amount of compensation you can claim for home adaptations will depend on the severity of the injuries and prognosis and the effect these will have on your life.

Week two: general home adaptations

The adaptations needed to a home following a life-changing injury are unique and personal to each individual, depending on their disabilities. It is therefore crucial that a claim for compensation is reflective of your individual needs. You may wish to consider:

  • How good/bad is my mobility and how long am I able to stand, if at all, without support?
  • How strong is my hand strength and grip?
  • Am I a walking frame or wheelchair user?
  • Do I have any visual or auditory limitations?
  • Do I have any cognitive limitations? In other words, do I suffer from impairments such as memory loss or word-finding difficulties?
  • Am I aware of my own safety, or do I require guidance?
  • What kind of property do I currently live in? Is my property ground-floor?

The answers to the above questions will largely determine the types of home adaptations required. For example, a client with an amputation who now has limited mobility may wish to install a video entryphone system to their home. Likewise, for individuals who become wheelchair users following an accident or injury, it may be necessary to adapt counter heights in bathrooms and kitchens. Access to facilities such as these can be imperative for personal independence. While a kitchen can be one of the most expensive areas within the home to adapt, we often make successful claims to cover the cost of home renovations to make these spaces as accessible as possible for clients with disabilities.

Week three: adapting homes for children with disabilities

People with disabilities often need to adapt their homes following injury to make the space safer. This is particularly the case for homes of children with disabilities. Whilst parents cannot control all environments, adaptations to the home can help to eliminate risks and allow parents to make the home a safer space.

Some of these modifications may be simpler, for instance, stairgates and non-slip rugs to prevent trips and falls for children with balance or coordination issues. Other adaptations may be more complex and need-specific, for instance, the installation of a light system that signals when the doorbell or telephone has rung, for a child with hearing limitations.

When considering making adaptions to a home for a disabled child, it’s important to consider:

  • Access to and from the home
  • Access within the home
  • Access and use of bathrooms and bathing/showering facilities
  • Grab bars and/or supportive handles
  • Potential hazards in gardens and outdoor spaces

Gardens and outdoor spaces can present their own risks to children with disabilities. Simple adaptations such as fences and gates can prove reassuring for parents of children with cognitive difficulties, who may not have an awareness of danger. 

Week four: adaptations to transport

People with disabilities may also wish to make adaptations to their methods of transport to allow them to regain their independence. We often make claims for our clients to purchase vehicles that are most suitable for their disabilities. For wheelchair users, an occupational therapist will be able to recommend which vehicles are most accessible for a wheelchair. A similar assessment is often carried out for amputees, or individuals living with other physical disabilities.

In addition, the Motability Scheme is a government-funded programme which aims to provide vehicles for disabled individuals and their families. For individuals who are not able to drive themselves, carers and family members can drive on their behalf, so long as the vehicle is used by, or for the benefit of, the disabled individual.

The Motability Scheme also offers adaptations to vehicles, ensuring it is as accessible as possible. These include adaptations to access, stowage and driving controls. The required adaptations are assessed and determined on a case-by-case basis through a ‘driving mobility test’, with many adaptations available at no additional cost. 

Week five: moving homes

It is often the case that following an accident or injury, an individual’s home is no longer suitable for their needs, and they often need to move, for example, to single-storey properties such as bungalows to reduce risk of accidental injury and improve independence in getting around the property. We have previously obtained interim payments enabling our clients to move property, allowing them the greatest comfort and independence in living with their injuries.

Visit our Medical Mondays hub for more information on the different injuries, accidents, and claims that are commonly encountered by our Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury team.

To find out more about our Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury team and the services we provide, visit our webpage here. If you’d like to speak to a member of the team, please submit an enquiry form.

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