Thousands of people spend years struggling at home and buying living aids privately, totally unaware that they could be eligible for free community equipment from their local authority.
That’s the claim being made by a new report that suggests nearly half of people are unaware of the free equipment and adaptation provision that local councils are legally obliged to supply to eligible individuals.
Now, health charity Versus Arthritis, which conducted the survey, wants the government to encourage local authorities to provide communities with better information on the equipment services available to them.
The survey claimed that 43% of people living with persistent pain struggled with basic tasks at home for more than two years before finding out about their eligibility for local authority support.
This includes functional aids and adaptations such as grab rails, raised toilet seats and stairlifts in their homes to assist with routine tasks.
Pain caused by arthritis can make simple movements such as standing or getting dressed difficult and painful. The confusion around what support is available has meant thousands of people have been impeded from living independently at home, the charity claims.
Individual costs for aids and adaptations can vary. Nearly 30% of individuals who have self-financed reported they have spent more than £1,000. In some cases, this has risen to as much as £5,000.
Tracey Loftis, head of policy and public affairs at Versus Arthritis, said that around 18m people in the UK live with arthritis.
“Aids and adaptations can make a positive difference to someone’s life, enabling people to live independently. We are concerned thousands of people in England who have arthritis are not getting the support they need from local authorities.
“People with arthritis deserve better than this and should be provided with aids and adaptations free of charge when eligible.
“Versus Arthritis is calling on the government to play a key role in developing best practice for local authorities as well as asking local authorities to provide information to the public about this vital service.”
Dr Anna Dixon, chief executive of Centre for Ageing Better, added: “We urgently need to upgrade and adapt Britain’s homes. Currently the vast majority are not suitable for people with reduced mobility or who have a disability.
“This can be difficult for people managing health conditions like arthritis. Fitting aids and adaptations into homes is a cost-effective way to meet the needs of an ageing population.”