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Monday, 27 June 2011

Types of equipment

Having the right equipment and aids can be important to independent living. Some may be related to a particular health need, others to assist you with particular tasks.

Equipment from the National Health Service (NHS)

Your doctor can prescribe certain items from an approved list. Some items can be provided through the district nurse; this will usually require an assessment and recommendation by a nurse or therapist. Items include:

  • elastic stockings
  • appliances for colostomies
  • some types of trusses or wound dressings
  • urinary catheters
  • pressure relieving cushions and mattresses
  • continence pads

Other health equipment available includes:

  • wheelchairs and walking aids
  • hearing and vision aids
  • artificial limbs and surgical appliances
  • communication aids

Your doctor can also refer you to specialist services for other kinds of health equipment. You can also approach these specialist services directly.

Equipment from social services

Equipment that can make it easier to manage at home is usually provided by the social services department of the local council following an assessment by an occupational therapist.

Equipment can help with preparing food or managing personal care. Kettle tippers or tap turners can help in the kitchen. Furniture raisers can be used to raise the height of chairs and beds to make getting up easier. Bath seats, raised toilet seats or hoists can help in the bathroom. 

Adaptations can be made to your home, such as attaching handrails, changing the position of light switches or sockets, or door entry systems.

VAT relief on products for disabled people

Disabled people don't have to pay VAT when they buy equipment that is designed solely for their use or when they have equipment adapted so they can use it.

Items that you can buy without paying VAT include surgical appliances, artificial limbs, wheelchairs and specialist clothing.

The cost of having some items serviced and maintained - like wheelchairs, for example - is also eligible for VAT relief.

Disabled Living Centres (DLCs)

These centres aim to increase opportunities for people to live independently. They offer disabled people the chance to see and try out a wide range of products to find those that suit their needs.

They also offer free and independent advice about what is available, how much it costs and where to get it. Many centres also arrange training on a variety of topics of interest to disabled people, carers and professionals, for which there is generally a fee.

Assist UK, which leads the UK-wide network of Disabled Living Centres, can give you up-to-date information about your nearest centre. The Assist UK website has an online search facility, or you can contact them by phone/textphone.

Telephone: 0870 770 2866

Textphone: 0870 770 5813

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