For many people, their own home is where they’d like to enjoy later life. Taking some time to think about how you could adapt or improve your home to meet your needs, now and in future, could help you stay in it for longer. There are also various forms of home help or home care services that can support you in your own home.
Checking your home is right for your needs
To check your home works as well for you now as it did when you bought it, try the Housing Options for Older People (HOOP) tool, created by UK Charity, the Elderly Accommodation Counsel (EAC). It’s a useful ‘housing MOT’ to get you thinking about your home and how you live in it.
From help to open jars and button up clothes to making it easier to prepare and eat meals, some gadgets are specially designed to make everyday life a little easier. They can help you to live safely and independently at home for as long as possible02
If you’re beginning to feel less steady on your feet around the house or out and about, a walking aid could help.
Wheelchairs or walking frames are often available on free long-term loan through your GP. If you need equipment that isn't available via your GP, you may need to pay for this yourself. To understand how you might cover these costs, use our Care Costs Calculator.
Talk to them for more information about support available through the NHS.03
It’s often in our bathrooms where we first start to notice our homes becoming less accessible to us. Finding it hard to get in and out of the bath is a common struggle for a lot of older people with conditions such as arthritis.
Seats for the shower, grip mats for slippery surfaces or walk-in baths are all options to help keep your bathroom easy to use.04
Telecare alarms and technology
Telecare or 'alarm' services usually involve wearing a pendant around your neck or wrist, making it easy for you to raise the alarm if you fall or feel unwell.
The latest ‘smart technology’ gives you more ways than ever to stay safe and connected to family and friends. There’s now smart lighting to automatically light a room as you walk in or pressure pads to raise the alarm if you fall. You can even set up advanced telecare services to speak to a trained nurse or carer for advice and reassurance when you need it.05
Finding aids and equipment
Disabled Living Foundation (DLF) is a UK charity specialising in helping older and disabled people find the aids, equipment, and technology they need to live safely and independently at home. Their Living Made Easy website is a free database of specialist equipment for later life.
Some equipment and aids can be supplied for you by the NHS or your local authority. To understand what’s available, speak to your GP.
You should also check you’re claiming all the financial support you’re entitled to. Attendance Allowance is a non means-tested benefit, meaning it doesn’t matter how much you have in income or savings. Many older people who are beginning to struggle will be entitled to it.
Read more about means testing and benefits.
Making small adaptations to your home
Sometimes all that's needed is a small practical change. Installing a handrail in the bathroom or a ramp on the steps into your home could make all the difference. Adaptations might include:
- Key safes
- Security, such as outside lights
- Putting a second bannister on your stairs
Your local authority should supply and install any minor adaptations they’ve agreed you need up to the value of £1,000, free of charge. Contact the Adult Social Care team of your local authority to request an assessment from an Occupational Therapist.
If you live in Scotland or Wales, contact your local authority and in Northern Ireland, get in touch with your GP or local Health and Social Care Trust.
You can also reach out to your local Home Improvement Agency (HIA), a not-for-profit organisation set up to support older homeowners and private renters to repair, adapt and improve their home.
Making larger improvements to your home can transform it into somewhere you’re able to live comfortably and independently for as long as possible.
Examples of home improvement and typical costs
Table Improvement Why it might be necessary Range of costs Wet rooms Make your bathroom more accessible for someone with limited mobility £4,000 - £12,000 depending on size of room and whether extras such as underfloor heating are included1 Stair lifts Easy to climb and descend a staircase £1,600 - £4,500 depending on whether your staircase has turns2 Widening doorways Making your home more accessible for a wheelchair user The cost will vary depending on whether the doorway is loadbearing and how many doorways you want to widen Ground floor extension Additional space downstairs for a bedroom and/or bathroom £36,000 to £76,000 depending on the size and purpose of the extension3 Lowering kitchen worktops Making your kitchen worktops accessible for wheelchair users
The costs are small if you already have height adjustable worktops and on need to pay for labour and basic plastering etc.If your existing kitchen units aren’t adjustable, you may need to pay for a new kitchen, which is likely to cost in the thousands.
To explore what improvements are possible in your home, you can ask for an Occupational Therapy assessment from the Adult Social Care team of your local authority. You can also get in touch with your local Home Improvement Agency.
Funding for home improvements
If you’re worried about the cost of making home improvements, you may want to contact your council or local Home Improvement Agency (HIA) to ask about any available grants. For example, a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG), pays up to £30,000 for people in need of home improvements who don’t have the money to cover the cost.
In Wales, DFGs can pay up to £36,000. In Northern Ireland you can receive up to £25,000. In Scotland DFG’s are known as a ‘Scheme of Assistance’ and each local authority set their own eligibility criteria.
If you need a little extra help with practical things at home, there are services to support you.
Charities like the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) provide local services, activities, meal delivery and their ‘good neighbours’ scheme, which can help with odd jobs and offer companionship.
You can also visit the Care Choices website, to find other local support services in your area.
Help from the council
Your local authority can tell you about the services that they provide or commission, such as:
- ‘Meals on wheels’ for meal home delivery services
- Community transport services that can help you get out and about. These are often called ‘Dial-a-Ride’
- Home adaptation services that can help you to live safely and independently
They should also be able to direct you to local charities and volunteer-run services that are local to you.
If you need help with personal care, you may want to hire a registered home care agency. Our Care Search helps match people looking for care with available, registered in-home care providers in their local area.
Personal care might include help with:
- Preparing medication
- Getting out of bed
- Using the bathroom
Paying for support at home
If you’re worried about how you’ll pay for services such as home care (also known as domiciliary care), make sure you’re claiming all the financial support you’re entitled to.
Read more in our section on Means Testing and Benefits.
For help with personal care, it’s a good idea to start by asking for an assessment of your care needs and finances from your local authority. If you have less than £23,250 in savings and need care, you may be entitled to some financial support.