This section includes equipment to assist with putting on and taking off clothing and footwear.
Compression and/or support hosiery aids may assist you if you have difficulty bending forward to put on or take off compression or support stockings, or stretching them to put over your legs.
Tights aids may assist you if you have difficulty bending forward to put tights on. They are usually a double version of a stocking or sock aid. Some may be flexible, cone shaped aids that are plastic or fabric, usually with two holes at the top where tapes or ropes are attached. Some may be floor standing. Which usually consists of an plastic coated frame with handles.
Sock and stocking aids may assist you if you have difficulty bending forward to put your socks on. There are flexible and rigid styles available, and some are floor standing. Flexible aids are cone shaped and is made of plastic or fabric, usually with two holes at the top where tapes or ropes are attached. Sock aids may have notches at different heights to act as handles. Rigid aids are made from a plastic semi-circular tube with a long handle or two tapes or ribbons attached. Floor standing sock aids usually consist of a plastic coated frame, some have handles. Aids to assist with removing socks are also included in this section.
Dressing sticks and devices usually consist of a wooden or plastic handle with a hook at the end. They may be used to assist with bringing clothes around or pushing them off your shoulders, pulling up zips or straps, tightening or loosening shoelaces, and pushing down trousers, underwear or stockings. You may find a dressing stick useful if you have pain or stiffness in your shoulders or arms, or have use of only one arm. Also included is equipment that may assist with other dressing tasks such as putting on a bra, or pulling up trousers or underpants, and garments that cover the body to enable undressing in a dignified way.
Button and zip aids help do up buttons and zips, which may be useful if you have reduced movement or strength in your hands, or have use of only one hand. Button hooks usually consist of a thick handle and a wire loop. The wire loop is pushed through the button hole and looped over the button, then pulled back through the button hole to fasten. Button hooks can be difficult to use at first and need practice to use effectively, especially with one hand. It may help if the edges of the garment can be held steady, and if the buttonhole is on your relatively more able side. Zip pulls are clip-on rings or pieces of cord with a hook at one end and a tab at the other to assist with fastening zips. These can be useful if you have difficulty gripping a standard zip tag, or difficulty reaching a zip.
Fastenings for clothing can be used to adapt existing clothing. This includes Velcro fastenings and zips that can be unzipped from either end. These fastenings may be easier to manage than buttons if you have reduced grip or dexterity in your hands and fingers.
Limb supports to assist with dressing are designed to provide dressing support to a person who has had an amputation.
Clothing accessories to aid toileting include those which may assist a user to lift clothing from the floor or prevent the clothing falling to the floor.
Boot levers are usually a rectangular piece of wood or plastic with a 'V' or 'U' shape at one end. They may assist you to remove your boots or shoes without bending down to hold the shoe or boot. To use a boot lever, place the heel of the boot or shoe into the 'V' or 'U' shaped end of the remover. Your other foot should then be positioned on the other end of the remover to hold it steady while you ease your foot out of the boot or shoe.
Long handled shoehorns can assist you if you have difficulty bending to put on your shoes. The shoehorn is placed inside the back of the heel of the shoe, helping to hold the shoe open and provide a smooth surface for your heel to slide down into the shoe. They can also help prevent the back of the heel from collapsing through trying to slide your foot in.
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