Disability Equipment – Sources

Focus on Disability - For Disabled People, the Elderly and their Carers in the UK

Having the right equipment to enable a disabled person to live more independently and also help their carers is vital. Here is given information as to where you can obtain equipment and products you require or don’t know about.

Sources include social service departments, the NHS, education and employment services and voluntary organisations. Social services and the NHS usually supply equipment on loan.

From social services

Equipment which can make it easier to manage at home is usually provided by social services departments following an assessment by an occupational therapist. How long you have to wait and how much help you get is not always the ideal.

The items supplied can make it easier and safer to deal with everyday tasks such as preparing food or managing your personal care. Simple alterations or adaptations can also be arranged, such as repositioning electrical sockets or fixing handrails.

The type of equipment or adaptation provided will depend on your situation, and can range from straightforward items such as kettle tippers and tap turners in the kitchen, bath seats and raised toilet seats in the bathroom, right through to hoists to help with transferring in and out of bed or bath

Depending on your circumstances, you could be asked to contribute to the cost.

Social services will arrange for an occupational therapist or social worker to make an assessment and if necessary call in the housing department to help. Occupational therapists will also be able to advise you about equipment you can obtain from other sources.

See also: Housing for Disabled People for information about arranging improvements and adaptations to your home.

From the National Health Service

GP services

Your GP can prescribe items from an approved list. These include , for example, elastic stockings, appliances for colostomies and similar conditions, some types of trusses and wound dressings, urinary catheters and urinary collection devices


see: NHS Wheelchair Service – Getting a Wheelchair:

If you have a problem which prevents you moving around your home easily, even for a short time, a wheechair may be the answer. An occupational therapist or physiotherapist will assess your needs at home, in hospital or at your local NHS wheelchair service. Hospitals have departments for special needs

How do you choose?

The NHS wheelchair service will help you choose a wheelchair that meets your needs, including extras like cushions, arm rests or trays. If the therapist agrees that you could benefit from a more expensive chair than the local service can offer, you may be able to get a voucher that will allow you to pay the difference. However, the voucher scheme is only applicable in England. Not all services may be able to offer this option yet.

Artificial limbs

see Disablement Service Centres (Limb Centres) in UK

If you need an artificial limb, they are provided, maintained and repaired at no charge. Your hospital consultant will refer you to your nearest Disablement Services Centre (DSC), or in Scotland and Wales, Artificial Limb and Appliance Centre (ALAC), where specialist medical staff prescribe the limb best suited to your needs and where you will also receive walking or arm training. The DSCs/ALACs are usually attached to regional hospitals.

In Wales the Artificial Limb and Appliance Service

(ALAS) (click here for website https://www.wales.nhs.uk) is responsible for providing the wheelchair service and artificial limbs. These services are provided at three Artificial Limb and Appliance Centres (ALACS) at:

Cardiff and Vale Trust
Artificial Limb and Appliance Centre
Rookwood Hospital
Fairwater Road
Cardiff CF5 2YN
Telephone: 029 2041 5415
Swansea NHS Trust
Artificial Limb and Appliance Centre
SwanseaSA6 6LG
Telephone: 01792 795252
North East Wales NHS Trust
Artificial Limb and Appliance Centre
Croesnewydd Road
WrexhamLL13 7NT
Telephone: 01978 727524

The NHS Wheelchair Service is only provided at the ALACS in Cardiff and Wrexham

Walking aids If there is a medical requirement for walking sticks, frames and other walking aids, they can be provided on loan from your local hospital or community health service, usually on the recommendation of a physiotherapist. A deposit may be required.

Surgical Appliances If you need a surgical appliance (or ‘orthosis’) your GP will be able to refer you to a healthcare professional who will be able to prescribe an appliance to suit your needs. Appliances include elastic hosiery, trusses, surgical footwear, leg appliances, abdominal and spinal supports, surgical brassieres, artificial breasts, arm, neck and head appliances and wigs.

You may be asked to pay a charge for wigs, fabric supports, surgical brassieres and elastic hosiery. If you have a low income this may be waived, or you may be offered some financial assistance

Disability Aids and Mobility Equipment at Focus on Disability

Environmental control systems

What are they?

Environmental control systems help people with a severe physical disability by enabling them to operate appliances and equipment in the home from a central control, worked if necessary by switches adapted to their individual requirements. They can be linked with a wide range of equipment such as alarms, door locks, intercoms. telephone, lights, heaters, beds, curtains, radios, televisions, communication aids and computers.

How do you get them?

Contact an occupational therapist in the social services or NHS who will be able to tell you about the systems available. Otherwise ask your GP or community nurse. You will then be referred to a medical consultant who acts as the environmental control assessor in your area.

If the assessor decides equipment would help , an occupational therapist from social services may be asked to assist with any necessary arrangements for installation. Equipment is provided on loan and maintained and serviced free of charge.

From the Employment service See the section on Access to Work to find out about help with equipment you may need to work.

Your local Jobcentre will put you in touch with a Disability Employment Adviser.

The Red Cross Medical Loan Service

Through your local branch (see phone book) can lend equipment including commodes, wheelchairs and walking frames to meet urgent short-term needs. They may sometimes charge a handling fee. St John Ambulance Brigade may also be able to help in some areas.


May be able to help if you need a specially adapted item outside the range of standard aids and equipment on the market.

Contact: https://www.remap.org.uk/contact/

The Disabled Living Foundation & The Disability Information Trust
The Disabled Living Foundation (DLF)

The Disabled Living Foundation makes everyday life easier for people with disabilities, older people and carers by giving impartial advice about equipment for overcoming problems in daily living. Tel: 0300 999 0004

Other places to view equipment and get information:-

Hospital occupational therapy departments

These often have small displays of equipment and offer advice to people who are in hospital or attending as out-patients

Social services departments

These often have assessment centres where equipment can be tried out.

Local authority education departments

These may have a selection of equipment on view for use in schools.


Larger branches often stock continence aids and basic aids for eating, drinking and bathing. Ask at your social services department or Disabled Living Centre where to buy items.

Specialist retailers and disability equipment manufacturers

These often have showrooms where equipment is displayed. Ask the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) for the address of your nearest retailer who subscribes to their code of practice.

Website: https://www.bhta.net/

Naidex Care Managementh

Each year Naidex holds exhibitions in the UK covering a wide range of equipment and services for disabled and elderly people. For details call: 0208 910 7873, or fax: 0208 910 7926


This is a charity formed by the Computability Centre and the Foundation for Communication for the Disabled to give information and advice on computer access at home and at work, including adapting technology to the needs of people with a disability.

Website: https://www.abilitynet.org.uk/


This voluntary organisation gives advice, assessment and training with an emphasis on the needs of people with cerebral palsy.

Website: https://www.scope.org.uk/


Royal National Institute for the Blind.

Website: https://www.rnib.org.uk/

Action on Hearing Loss

Website: https://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/