Help paying for wheelchairs, home adaptations and more: Your top 5 questions answered

7 mins read

Tuesday 26 July 2022

Tags: disabled facilities grant, facebook q&a, grants, financial help

Our recent Facebook Q&A session about grants, discounts and other sources of financial support for families was a big hit, with more than 45 parent carers joining in to ask questions to our advisers.

The session once again took place in our private Facebook Group for parent carers. We have many other exciting Q&As planned for this year, so make sure to join our community if you are not yet a member: all you need to do is answer the 3 membership questions when prompted.

If you were unable to take part in our latest session, you can read through the Q&A here — but we’ve also rounded up the top 5 questions for you below… 

1. Are there any grants available for home adaptations? 

Certainly! Families in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are eligible for help under the Disabled Facilities Grants (DFG) scheme for major works to a property. In Scotland, help is available under The Scheme of Assistance. These schemes are available to homeowners as well as tenants who rent privately, from the council or housing association.  

Most local authorities will ask for an assessment from an occupational therapist (OT) or social worker to decide if the work is ‘necessary and appropriate’ to meet your child’s needs. An OT is a professional who can advise on equipment for daily living and managing more easily within the home. The OT or social worker will usually visit you in your home to discuss the situation further and carry out the assessment. You can visit our website for more information about home adaptations, OT assessments and requesting a DFG.  

Under the DFG scheme the time limit for the council to make a decision is six months, but that is only from when a formal application for a grant has been made. Bear in mind that contacting an OT for an assessment is not the same as a formal application. To minimise delays, we advise families to make a formal application for a grant as soon as possible so that you can get a decision within the six-month time limit. You can do this even if you are still waiting for an OT to visit your home to carry out an assessment. Information on how to apply for a DFG can be found on the government website.  

2. Is there any help to get a laptop for my daughter? 

Yes, it may be possible to get a grant for your daughter’s laptop. Laptops are one of the main things that Family Fund helps with, for example. You will just need to ask if they could include any software your daughter may need. Have a look at the Family Fund website for more information, including how to apply. 

If you don’t meet their criteria or if you want to explore other funding options, you can use the Grants Search tool on our website to see what other grant-giving organisations may be able to help. Alternatively, you can visit our Grants webpage to download a list of charities that provide general grants or a separate list of charities focusing on educational grants (in case the laptop is required for school). 

3. How can I get help with a wheelchair? We were rejected by the NHS wheelchair services, but my child needs one for school. 

In general, your health authority is responsible for providing equipment to meet nursing or medical needs. This might include special beds and bed equipment, hoists, incontinence aids, feeding aids, mobility aids and hearing aids. 

If an occupational therapist carried out an assessment of your child’s needs and determined they were not eligible for a wheelchair, you can talk to the person responsible if you are unhappy with this result. If this doesn’t work, then you can make a formal complaint using the local authority’s complaints procedure. It can be useful to get help to make a complaint from a local disability or carers’ organisation. 

If there is any aspect of health provision that you’re unhappy with, including wheelchair services, then you should raise this with the person responsible first and then make a formal complaint if you are still not satisfied. Ask the wheelchair service for a copy of their complaints procedure, which will explain how to make a formal complaint. You can find details of who can help you with making a complaint in any of the four UK nations on page 7 of our guide on Aids, Equipment and Adaptations. Should your child need a wheelchair while your complaint is being considered, take a look at page 17 of our guide for a list of charities you can contact for support – such as Whizz-KidzThe Mobility Trust or Caudwell Children. 

Alternatively, you can use the Grants Search tool on our website to find a different charity that may be able to help. 

4. What support is there with the increased cost of gas and electricity? My child requires live-saving equipment to support her. We need the heating on throughout the day and night too, as my child gets cold due to poor muscle and circulation.  

We understand how you feel — this is something Contact has been campaigning about after our Out of Energy research showed that families with disabled children have much higher energy costs than average UK households. 

Thanks to intensive campaigning by many fantastic organisations and individuals, the government recently announced a Cost of Living support scheme to help low-income and disabled families with their energy bills. Depending on your family’s circumstances, there are a few different payments you may be eligible for. Take a look at our website here to see what the government is offering, or scroll up on the same webpage for a list of other available sources of help that you may be eligible for. You can also look through our Cost of Living checklist for further ideas of how to access financial support. 

In the meantime, please contact your energy provider to see what support they may be able to offer you based on your child’s medical needs and the requirement to always keep the house at a certain temperature. The British Gas energy Trust offer grants to everyone, not only their customers – but please note they have certain eligibility criteria. Visit their Grants webpage to find out more. 

5. At what level of DLA are you able to get a bus pass? 

All local authorities operate schemes allowing disabled people of any age to apply for a bus pass or voucher for free bus travel. In some areas, an essential and named carer accompanying the disabled person is also entitled to free travel. 

The Disabled Travel Pass is what most disabled children and young people use. It’s not based on any component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA). Instead, the application form would want you to show why your child or young person needs extra support to travel from one place to another. Contact your local authority for more details, or take a look at the government website for more information. 

We would also recommend reading through our Transport Discounts webpage for other potential sources of help, such as with parking, driving lessons, road tax, rail travel and school transport.