On 8 May, Versus Arthritis published a new policy report looking at the impact of home aids and adaptations for people with arthritis, and the barriers that people face when trying to access them. Ollie Phelan from Versus Arthritis spoke to APSE Direct about the report, and its relevance to local authorities.
There are over 10 million people in the UK living with arthritis. That’s one in six, with over half of those living in pain every single day. The impact is huge as the condition intrudes on everyday life – affecting the ability to work, care for a family, to move free from pain and to live independently.
Our recent report found that 60% of people with arthritis - across all genders, ages, and severity of condition - use an aid or adaptation. From perching stools and grabbing tools, to rails and stairlifts, these aids can prove invaluable to people with arthritis and related conditions such as back pain, helping them achieve a better quality of life and maintain their independence in the home. 95% of people with arthritis in the survey said that these products had a positive impact on their lives.
The Care Act (2014) made it a legal duty for Local Authorities to provide aids and minor adaptations to people who qualify, free of charge. Yet too few people realise that they are entitled to this help and too many pay for items themselves, or go without. The charity found that 43% of people living with persistent pain who answered our survey struggled with basic tasks at home for more than two years before finding out what support could be available.
Within a climate of funding pressures, adaptations services are cost-effective for local authorities. In just one example, the Rapid Response Adaptations programme in Wales saved £7.50 in health and care costs for every £1 spent on adaptations .
Jennylyn Williams has lived with rheumatoid arthritis for 20 years. She told us, “Aids and adaptations have taken away the stress of everyday life. They have meant the difference between being able to cook healthy meals or not. The aids mean that my fatigue doesn’t get in the way and it’s opened up my word again. I’ve gone from being totally restricted to being able to lead a ‘normal’ life.”
Local authorities can take concrete actions to improve their provision of aids and adaptations now. Firstly, we recommend that local authorities evaluate their information and advice services to ensure that people are aware of the support that is available to them. This will also help self-funders to make good decisions. Secondly, we recommend that local authorities seek out and share best practice in this area.
To read the report and find out more about the work Versus Arthritis is doing to campaign for better access to aids and adaptations, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.