If you’re in a wheelchair, even in the short-term, it can be a struggle to get around. Many homes simply aren’t built to cater for wheelchairs, and they lack ramps and access points, making it difficult to get in and out. This can be extremely challenging if you’re not able to get out of your chair yourself, resulting in a reliance on others for help.
If you want to get more independence, trying to seek funding for a disabled ramp is a good idea. This should allow more freedom without having to rely heavily on friends, family and carers.
If you’re only in a wheelchair for a short time, you should still be able to access help. Perhaps you’ve had a fall and broken your hip, or are recovering from surgery and need to be in a wheelchair for a few months. In such a situation you might not want to make permanent changes to your home but might still require a few modifications to make life easier.
For short-term help, it’s wise to contact The British Red Cross. This charitable organisation aims to increase independent living for people in need, and relies on donors so it can offer free loans of mobility aids. These include a wide array of items, including walking sticks, crutches and even wheelchairs themselves. They may also be able to provide short-term ramps for disabled access, allowing you to get in and out of your home more easily. This can be of great help whilst you recover for your injuries or wait for a more permanent solution to be found.
Disabled Facilities Grant
If you’re expecting to need long-term help getting into your home by means of a wheelchair access ramp, then it’s worthwhile applying to the government for a disabled facilities grant. This not only covers the cost of installing an access ramp, but could help even more than you first thought; by widening internal doors to increase your manoeuvrability, for example. Applying for this grant does not affect any other benefits you’re receiving either, so it’s a good idea to try and get this financial help, whatever the outcome.
The disabled facilities grant is not means-tested if you’re receiving benefits. These include:
- Income Support
- Housing Benefit
- Universal Credit
- Income-based Employment Support Assistance
- Income-based Job Seekers Allowance
- Work or Child Credits and have a household income less than £15,050
If you don’t meet these criteria, you could still get some grant money, though administrators will take both your savings and income into consideration. Meanwhile, if you’re under 18, your parents’ money won’t be taken into account. Though a disability ramp isn’t a significant cost, you can get up to £30,000 funding if you live in England, £36,000 in Wales and £25,000 in Northern Ireland. Scotland uses a different system, and you should contact Capability Scotland for more information. Even though you might not need such a large grant, it’s worthwhile considering other changes you might need.
Qualifying for a Disabled Facilities Grant
To qualify for the disabled facilities grant, there are a number of points you need to meet to be considered.
- You must own your property and intend to live there throughout the grant period of five years
- You must be a tenant in the property to be modified and, as with homeownership, need to stay in the accommodation for the five years of the grant’s term
- You’re a landlord who has a disabled tenant in need of home modifications
Applying for a Grant
To apply for a grant so you can afford a disabled ramp, you need to do some homework beforehand. This is because administrators will want to know exactly what work is required and how much it will cost. For this reason, you should contact your local social services and have an occupational therapist assess your needs and that of your home. When you’re ready to go ahead, simply contact your local council (you can find this by using the Gov.uk website).
Getting the Work Completed
If you’re having something more substantial than a foldable access ramp installed, then you should be prepared for some building work to take place. Your local council will advise you on how they’ll pay for the work, either sending the money to the contractor directly or giving you the money first. This may be in instalments as each piece of work is finished, or after the entire job is complete. However, if you’re only having a ramp fixed into place it is likely you’ll receive a lump sum after work has been finished.
Applying for a grant to get a wheelchair ramp installed might seem a little daunting, but it’s worth the effort. If successful, you’ll get better access to your home without having to personally pay for it, making life simpler and giving you more independence.