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B4 How to get good advice about equipment and adaptations

This information gives you advice about equipment that can help you live independently at home and how to choose what is best for you. Before you buy equipment it is important to know that it is right for you and that it will do what you want.

Buying your own equipment
You can buy some equipment from ordinary high street shops. There are also some voluntary organisations and private providers that sell equipment.

Use the national AskSARA website to find out what equipment could help you. It asks you questions about what you need and then it gives recommendations about what equipment may help you - www.asksara.dlf.org.uk/

Then use the "find services" section of the Somerset Choices website to find local places where you can buy the equipment you have researched. www.somersetchoices.org.uk/

Or, you can look for information in the Yellow Pages and on the internet by searching Mobility and Access Equipment. We cannot make individual recommendations and there may also be other companies available to provide similar equipment.

Remember that you have rights as a consumer if the product you buy is not 'fit for purpose' and these rights entitle you to return equipment if it does not solve your problems.  Visit: www.gov.uk/consumer-protection-rights for more information.

Equipment for short-term loan
This is available through the British Red Cross Society loans service and is ideal if you need some equipment temporarily, for example, while a disabled relative is on holiday with you. You can contact them on 01823 273746

Somerset 'My Home, My Life'
Somerset 'My Home, My Life' is a partnership between Millbrook, which provides a Community Equipment Service and Aster Living which provides a Home Improvement Agency Service. This uses a unique joined-up approach to help people live as safely and independently as possible in the home of their choice.

Community Equipment Service
Millbrook Healthcare has many years of proven experience in delivering and maintaining community equipment, wheelchairs and assistive technology.

The local service centre is in Wellington. Skilled technicians and a helpful customer service team can provide assistance with the range of equipment available and how to get it.

Home Improvement Agency
Our contracted provider is Aster Living, who can help you arrange a major adaptation to your home if you need it.

The team can provide technical services, such as drawing plans and getting quotations for work. They work with occupational therapists and District Councils to make sure the work progresses smoothly. They keep lists of reliable contractors, who can provide a quality service and make sure that everything is as it should be when the work is finished.

The work may be funded through a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) administered by your District Council, following a recommendation from a Social Care Occupational Therapist (OT).  

They can support you to complete the works privately if you are not eligible for funding under the Disabled Facilities Grant means test.

For more information about the Home Improvement Agency service provided by Aster Living, please phone: 0333 400 8299. Please see our Information Sheet B5: 'Adapting Your Home' for more detailed information

Aster Living also provide a subsidised handyperson service called 'Handihelp'which can help you with small repairs, maintenance and minor adaptations (not funded by us). They charge for this service, which is we subsidise, to keep costs reasonable. They will provide a quotation if you ask for one. Staff also carry out free home safety checks when they visit you.

The Handihelp service is also available as a home from hospital discharge service if you need minor repairs and adaptations to your home to make sure your move back is safe. Some parts of this service may be provided at no cost to you.

For more information about the Handihelp service, or to book an appointment phone 0333 400 8299 or email handihelp@asterliving.co.uk, or visit www.asterliving.co.uk/adapting-your-home/handihelp

Independence and Advice Centres
Advice and guidance on equipment is available to support people with their daily living needs. There is an opportunity to try out equipment and purchase items on the day, or have advice on other retail outlets offering these products. If you are eligible to be provided with equipment from our community equipment service, an order is made so that you can collect it straight away, or it might be delivered if necessary. If it is agreed that you need a follow up Occupational Therapy home visit, this can be arranged.

We have two Independence and Advice centres (IAC):

  • Millbrook Equipment and Assessment building, Chelston Business Estate, Wellington
  • Aster Living, Meadow Rise, Shepton Mallet

To book an appointment for an IAC please phone 0300 123 2224. Full directions will be provided with your appointment confirmation.Home Improvement Agency

Advice from an independent Occupational Therapist
If you would like advice from an Occupational Therapist you can either visit one of the Independent Living Centres, where you will be able to try out equipment and get advice about what to buy. (Please see the end of this information sheet for their contact details). Or, you could ask a private Occupational Therapist, who can come and see you in your own home. The British Association of Occupational Therapists has a dedicated list of private Occupational Therapists. For more information, phone the Independent Enquiry line on 0800 389 4873.

Adaptations
You may need major alterations to your home, such as putting in a stair-lift or wet floor shower. If major alterations are needed, then we will ask the District Council to consider you for a Disabled Facilities Grant. They will ask you for information about your finances and you may have to pay towards the cost of the work. Please see our Information Sheet B5: 'Adapting Your Home' for more detailed information.

The Adult Social Care Service in Somerset provides support for older people and adults with physical disabilities. We can give advice and information to help you stay as independent as possible. This could include advice about equipment and alterations to your home to help you and your carer, if you have one, manage more easily.

You can phone Somerset Direct on 0300 123 2224.

We will talk to you about the things you are finding difficult. We may be able to give you advice and information to help you sort things out for yourself. Sometimes it is easier to come and see you. If this is the case, we will arrange for someone from the Occupational Therapy Team to visit you. They will talk with you and discuss the best choices for you. Sometimes, it may be that you need equipment, for example a hoist and sling, or minor works, such as extra stair rails. If this is approved by the Occupational Therapist, we will provide them free of charge.

Sometimes the member of staff may recommend other ways of carrying out activities, or other types of help such as physiotherapy, if they think that the equipment alone won't solve the problem. They will explain this to you and how it could help.

Independent Living Centres in the South West

1) Independent Living Centre
St George's Rd
Semington
Wiltshire, BA14 6JQ
You must phone in advance to make an appointment:  01380 871 007 

2) Disabled Living Centre (DLC)
The Vassall Centre
Gill Avenue
Fishponds
Bristol, BS16 2QQ
Phone: 01179 653 651
Monday to Friday by appointment only

Free to residents of Bristol, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset, Bath and NE Somerset. There is a fee of £25.00 for assessment if you live outside these areas.

3) Independent Living Centre
Devon House
Brunel Road
Newton Abbot, TQ12 4PB
Wednesday, drop in between 10am and 3pm.
Otherwise by appointment only, phone: 01392 380 181
Email: irc-exeter@devon.gov.uk