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Monday, 27 June 2011

Adjusting to disability

Becoming disabled through illness, injury, accident or a worsening medical condition can affect many areas of someone's life. Here are some of the things you may need to think about.

Your doctor

Your doctor will be central to much of the health support you receive. Your doctor will support you whether you have a progressive illness that develops over time, or for example, a sudden disability caused by an accident.

You may also come across doctors and consultants and their teams who specialise in certain conditions and disabilities at hospitals and clinics.

Health and social care support

Becoming disabled means you may need support from health and social care services for the first time. A health and social care assessment with the social services department of your local council is the first step.

You may be entitled to a package of support which could include home care help, disability or health equipment and adaptations.

You may also be entitled to a grant to help you adapt your home or be offered alternative accommodation such as supported housing.

Financial support

If you become disabled, you may be entitled to financial support to help meet extra costs as a direct result of your disability.

This can include:

  • disability benefits, such as Disability Living Allowance
  • VAT relief on products and services related to your disability
  • Council Tax reduction or grants to help adapt your home, if necessary

Employment

If you become disabled while in work there are many things you, and your employer, can do to enable you to remain in employment. You do have employment rights under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).

Adjustments to the workplace, processes or your duties could include:

  • providing practical aids and technical equipment to help you
  • organising a phased return to work
  • alternative employment within the same company
  • flexible hours or perhaps part-time work

Whether you are in or out of work, Disability Employment Advisers at Jobcentre Plus offices can give you support and advice about work.

Your family and friends

Family members or friends may suddenly find themselves in a 'caring' role, if they help to look after you. In that case they are entitled to an assessment of their needs as a carer. They may be able to claim financial support, such as Carer's Allowance.

If you are a parent or thinking of becoming one, look at our information covering having a baby, parental support, schools and more.

Driving and your vehicle

If you drive, you must let the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) know about any medical condition or disability that may affect your driving.

You may be able to get your own vehicle adapted, if necessary. Otherwise there are several options of getting an adapted vehicle, including the Motability scheme. You may also be exempt from paying vehicle tax.

Mental health

Becoming disabled can sometimes affect a person's mental health - often there is a period of adjustment needed.

If you experience mental health problems, your doctor or another health professional may refer you to a specialist. This may be a psychotherapist, community psychiatric nurse or a counsellor. These professionals will work with you to help you find ways of dealing with problems you are experiencing or concerns you may have.

Support groups and organisations

Keeping in touch with other disabled people can be a good way of getting informal advice and support - especially if you are newly disabled.

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