Thinking About Accessibility - Adapt Or Move?
Whatever type of home you live in, you’ll want your child to be able to get around as comfortably, safely and independently as possible. Adapting your home to make it more accessible can make a very positive difference to family life. It’s important to look at the whole of your home and think about all your child’s daily activities – what they have to do as well as what they like to do, both independently and with the family. Some adaptations, such as installing a ramp and rails to replace a step when there’s plenty of space, may be relatively straightforward and completed quickly. Others can be much more complex and need plenty of time for both planning and completion.
Which adaptations are appropriate, when they'll be needed, and what will be practically possible, will depend on the combination of your child’s needs, your home – whether it's rented or privately owned by you - and what funding's possible (see Costs and Funding section). If you’re a private tenant or a local authority or Housing Association tenant, you must get your landlord’s agreement to carry out adaptations. Landlords mustn’t withhold consent unreasonably, but they may be able to evict you if you make alterations without permission. When making a decision, landlords can take into account factors such as the length of your tenancy, how much work is needed and whether permission is needed from anyone else, such as the person who owns the building.
If you’re going to need changes, it’s important early on in the ‘thinking about accessibility’ stage, to get the help and support of a local authority community occupational therapist (community OT) who has this specialist knowledge. If you're a tenant, they should be able to guide you on how and when it’s best to approach your landlord. Whatever your situation, they will explain the process and advise you to ensure that any plans to change your current home meet building, planning and safety standards and take account of your child’s present and future needs (see Adaptations Process); or they’ll confirm and support you if your decision is that you need to move.
We hope these next sections will help you when you have discussions with your community OT and as you begin to think about these big decisions.
Page last reviewed / updated: March 2021
Next review due: March 2022