Choosing equipment and adaptations

In order to make sure you get the right equipment for you, there are a few things to think about before you commit to buying an item.

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Always get advice from an occupational therapist or physiotherapist before you buy equipment. Health professionals will have a better understanding of your condition than the person or company selling the equipment. Together you can discuss your needs and the options available to you before you make any decisions.

An occupational therapist can make recommendations based on your own requirements. These may involve exercises, changing the way you do something to make it easier, or other kinds of treatment. Often occupational therapists will prefer to help you by teaching you exercises and new ways of doing things, and may only advise that you buy equipment as a last resort.

Having an individual assessment will help you find the best solution for you. If an occupational therapist thinks you could benefit from using a piece of equipment, they may be able to provide or arrange changes to your home (such as hand and grab rails in a bathroom) or suggest where to find suitable items. The Disabled Living Foundation can also give you independent information and advice on choosing equipment. 

You can request an appointment for an occupational therapist to visit you at home through your GP or social services or social work department, or your local health and social care trust. Ideally you should be paired with an occupational therapist who has specialist knowledge of Parkinson’s. This may not always be possible, but it’s worth mentioning.

You can also be referred to other professionals, such as a physiotherapist, a specialist Parkinson’s healthcare team or a rehabilitation service, if available near you.

You can choose to pay for private occupational therapy. To find a private occupational therapist in your area, contact The British Association and College of Occupational Therapists.

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If you decide to buy a piece of equipment it’s best to try it out first. There may be different models available that you want to compare.

You may have an equipment demonstration centre near you that you can visit by appointment to view and try equipment. For details of your nearest centre, ask at your GP surgery or check the Disabled Living Foundation’s details on equipment demonstration centres.

The Disabled Living Foundation also has an online tool, AskSARA, to help you identify suitable equipment and suppliers and compare products.

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Occupational therapists can give you advice and may be able to help arrange funding for minor home adaptations, such as fitting grab rails and handrails by stairs.

You can also get advice on more expensive home adaptations, such as stair lifts or accessible showers, from occupational therapists based in local social services or health and social care services.

If you need major changes to your home, such as an extension, fixed hoists, stair lifts or downstairs bathrooms and shower units, you may be eligible for a disabled facilities grant. If this grant is available, an occupational therapist will assess your needs and will contact the relevant council departments.

Funding for major home adaptations is often means tested. So the decision as to whether you get money from the government or local authority to help pay for something you need depends on how much money you have, including your savings. You can find out more about funding for major adaptations at GOV.UK

Funding for equipment depends on the type of equipment and what funding is available in your local area or from other funding sources.

Some local Red Cross groups loan out equipment, such as wheelchairs. 

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If you’re disabled or have a long-term condition, you shouldn't be charged VAT on products designed or adapted for your own personal or domestic use. This includes stair lifts, adjustable beds, wheelchairs, alarms and building work, like installing ramps. You also shouldn’t be charged VAT on installation, repairs, maintenance or spare parts for equipment.

Depending on your needs, you can apply for VAT exemption by:

  • asking your supplier for a VAT relief form
  • applying online when purchasing VAT-free items online
  • downloading a form to take into a shop when you make a qualifying purchase

You can find out more about VAT relief at GOV.UK, or you can call HM Revenue and Customs on 0300 200 3700.

Last updated May 2017. We review all our information within 3 years. If you'd like to find out more about how we put our information together, including references and the sources of evidence we use, please contact us at publication[email protected].