This section includes cutlery and accessories with assistive features.. Some are available as sets. They are suitable for adults, children or both.
Cutlery with lightweight handles usually mean items weighing less than about 45g. Lightweight cutlery may assist people with weakness of the arms or shoulders, who may have difficulty lifting standard cutlery.
Cutlery with enlarged and/or contoured handles may be easier to grip. Using cutlery with a larger grip means that your fingers don't need to be wrapped tightly around the handle to grip securely. This can be useful if you find it painful to hold your fingers in a tight grip, or are unable to form a tight grip. Contoured handles are shaped to fit the contours of your hand, which can allow a more secure grip of the handle. Cutlery with handles that are textured or looped may also provide assistance.
Angled cutlery has the utensil head positioned at an angle to the handle which may compensate for restricted movement at the shoulder, elbow or wrist. Some cutlery has a fixed angled head or handle, while others may have adjustable shafts or handles that can be changed by remoulding or with separate components.
Swivel cutlery has a pivoting joint between the head and the handle, helping to keep the head horizontal as you bring it to your mouth. The range of movement can be restricted using 'stops'.
Colour contrasted cutlery may be easier to identify for people who experience memory loss.
Knives with a curved or 'rocker' blade require downward pressure and a rocking action to cut food and therefore you do not need to use a fork to stabilise the food item, making it possible for them to be used with one hand. Also included are knives with the handles set at a right angle to the blade which offers a more neutral grip position.
Spoons and forks with shaped heads are designed to be used by someone who has had surgery, for example to their lips, palate or tongue. Spoons with shallow, flat or narrow bowls may also provide assistance when eating.
Combination cutlery combines the features of knives, forks and/or spoons. This may enable you to position and cut food with one hand only. Included are rocker knives with forked end and 'splayed' utensils which have a spoon shaped bowl, single or double cutting edge and forked end.
Non-metallic or plastic coated cutlery may help to prevent damage to the lips, teeth and mouth especially if you have limited control of head or arm movements, or have a strong bite reflex.
Weighted cutlery is heavier than standard cutlery and may be useful if you have tremor, as the additional weight of the item may help to reduce unintentional hand movements.
Handles designed for specifically for use with cutlery can be more assistive. Some can be used with other utensils, such as pens and toothbrushes.
Holders which attach to utensil handles enable you to hold and use the utensil in different ways, for example gripping a ball rather than a traditional handle. They are designed to help if you have reduced grip strength and/or range of movement in your hands.
Hand straps that are designed to assist you to hold cutlery or other tools if you are unable to form an enclosed grip. The straps are adjustable and worn on your hand, with a built-in pouch. The cutlery handle is inserted into the pouch when required for use. Straps may assist if you have reduced ability to grip. The strap can help to ensure that cutlery is not dropped if you can't maintain your grip throughout your meal. Straps are generally only worn with spoons or forks as they don't offer enough stability to allow effective use of a knife.
Splints that are designed to support your wrist when using cutlery. The splint has a cutlery item attached or a pouch in which to insert the item.
Cutlery assessment kits include a range of cutlery items and modifications. They enable professional assessment and customisation according to individual requirements.
There are several factors to consider when purchasing equipment.
In most instances a complaint should initially be made to the supplier who provided you with the item. CAB has a range of guidelines on their website on making a complaint about poor service or faulty goods. These include complaining by phone, complaining in writing and template letters. CAB advice about making a complaint.
If you are not satisfied with the supplier's response then you may choose to complain to:
Safety incidents involving medical devices can be reported to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on the GOV UK website www.mhra.gov.uk or their Adverse incident centre hotline 020 3080 7080. The MHRA is the government agency responsible for ensuring that medical devices and medicines work and are acceptably safe. Their definition of 'Medical devices' includes devices used for assisting patients and users, thus many daily living aids such as bath lifts, commodes and walking sticks are medical devices. Any incident involving the safety of a medical device (including safety issues with its instructions for use) should be reported to the MHRA, especially if the incident contributed to, or could have caused injury, life-threatening illness or death.
Buying from a private person gives you fewer rights. You will only be able to claim against the seller if the product doesn't match its description or if the seller did not own it. Consequently, some firms occasionally pretend to be private sellers to avoid their legal responsibilities towards customers. If you suspect this has happened to you find out about your rights and what action to take on the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) website https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/ or call 0345 404 0506 to speak to the Citizen Advice consumer helpline.
The length of the manufacturer's guarantee does not limit any claim you may make to the seller as if a product develops a fault outside the guarantee period you can still claim against the seller if you can show that the fault was unreasonable at that period in the products life.
You may be asked whether you would like to purchase an extended warranty. Remember that your statutory rights exist, under the Sale of Goods Act, whether or not you choose to buy their warranty and whether or not the goods came with any guarantee. Manufacturers' guarantees are separate from the automatic rights you have against the seller, and may be more limited. For more information read the Citizens Advice Bureau guide to guarantees and warranties.
For large complex items, such as a stairlift, check what kind of maintenance contract the supplier offers.
Some suppliers are members of a trade association. Many of these trade associations have a code of practice that governs their members' customer service, and thus may help to project you from unscrupulous selling practices. For example, some trade associations prohibit their members from contacting people uninvited to try and sell their products. They may also prohibit their members from using high pressure selling tactics such as offering a discount if you order that day, or phoning their manager while demonstrating the equipment to you to agree a 'special discount/deal'. Thus if you have a choice of suppliers for the product you wish to purchase we recommend you consider the suppliers who are members of trade association.
We record suppliers' membership of several trade associations (see a list of these trade associations) and our ratings give greater weighting to trade associations with codes of practice which are approved by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) (e.g. the British Healthcare Trade Association) or governed by an audit scheme which meets the requirements of the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS).
We also record whether suppliers meet the ISO 9000 series of standards. These standards define a Quality System which certifies that formalised business processes are being applied, and thus may be another indicator to look for if you have a choice of suppliers.
You may be able to purchase equipment designed for use by disabled people without paying the VAT if you are 'chronically sick or disabled', and you are buying the item/s for your own personal or domestic use. For VAT purposes, a person is 'chronically sick or disabled' if they:
So, you won't qualify if you're only temporarily disabled or incapacitated (e.g. if you have a broken leg).
Examples of products which are likely to qualify for VAT relief (if intended for the personal or domestic use of a chronically sick or disabled person) include:
Price is important but, if we list more than one supplier, it is important to look for more than just the cheapest price. Check when the prices were last updated (this should be stated under each price). Consider whether:
Experienced therapists or trusted assessors know a lot about products and will help you make sure the product is right for you now and will continue to be suitable in the future.
You may be able to get an assessment and advice from social services. GOV.UK website
Alternatively you may choose to pay for a private occupational therapist. If you wish to request a private appointment with an occupational therapist then you can obtain details of local private occupational therapists from the 'College of Occupational Therapists Specialist Section - Independent Practice' (COTSS-IP) website. www.cotss-ip.org.uk or phone their enquiry Line: 0845 129 7699.
You can check whether a therapist is state registered with the Health Care professions Council (HCPC) at www.hcpc-uk.org/audiences/
You can find out about products and try them out, with independent advice at an Independent Living Centre (ILC). There are about 30 ILCs in the UK. Most do not sell products but they will be able to tell you where to buy them. We recommend you make an appointment before you visit
You could view equipment at an exhibition. They are a good opportunity to see what's available and meet the competing suppliers. The main exhibition of equipment is NAIDEX, held annually at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, and Glasgow. www.naidex.co.uk