Top Tips for Adapting Your Home for a Child with Cerebral Palsy

woman in a wheelchair in the kitchen

Adapting your home for a child with cerebral palsy is an important first step towards giving them an easier life around the house. But how can you do this?

Having a child with cerebral palsy can be difficult. The condition itself boasts a huge number of physical and mental impairments that require extra care and attention. The home is the one place your child should feel safe, so making these adaptations is crucial.

These adaptations can be expensive. In the case where your child has cerebral palsy because of an issue in the womb that wasn’t caught early enough, you can seek legal advice for cerebral palsy caused by doctor negligence to help pay for the costly adaptations. Otherwise, disability benefits should help to take the weight off you, financially.

Today, we’re going to explain how a child with cerebral palsy struggles in their daily life, and what home adaptations you can make to help ease these struggles. We’ll also delve into what sort of help you might be entitled to when paying for these adaptations. So, to get stuck in, read on…

The Daily Struggles of a Child with Cerebral Palsy

Before we get into the home adaptations, we’re going to explore the daily struggles of a child with cerebral palsy, so we know what these adaptations are for. Cerebral palsy has a multitude of different symptoms that some sufferers have, and some don’t. In general, the condition can affect the child’s posture, balance, and ability to move, communicate, sleep, eat and learn.
The severity of mobility issues may be as little as a weakness in one hand, which makes it difficult to write or tie shoelaces. A child with cerebral palsy may also experience unpredictable movements, stiff muscles, and have tremors.

On the other end of the scale, they may have a complete lack of control over their movements, requiring 24-hour care. They may not be able to swallow, breathe, control their head, neck, bladder or bowel, and may not be able to eat properly. 

1 in 3 children with cerebral palsy will be unable to walk, and vision impairment is not uncommon. 1 in 10 sufferers are usually completely blind.

What Adaptations Should I Make for a Child with Cerebral Palsy?

Looking at the above struggles of being a child with cerebral palsy, it’s easy to see why you might need to adapt your home to keep them safe. But why do you need these adaptations and which ones are the best for your child?

Why do I Need Home Adaptations?

Home adaptations are any changes you make to your home that remove the environmental barriers in the way of a disabled person. These barriers stop a child with cerebral palsy from being independent and promote isolation and lack of participation. Any adaptations you can make to your home to remove these barriers will help your child with cerebral palsy in the following ways: 
  • Increase or maintain their level of independence
  • Reduce the risk of accidents
  • Reduce the need for help or care at home
  • Reduce the risk of hospital admissions
  • Support yourself, or those who are caring for your child

Which Ones do I Need?

As we saw in the previous section, many children with the condition are unable to walk or find it difficult to walk. So, environmental adaptation for a child with cerebral palsy is primarily based around helping them do so.

Cerebral palsy accessibility needs to be at the level of other people in your home for your child to feel fully included. Some of these adaptations are simpler than others, but how much you’ll need to modify depends on the severity of your child’s condition.

They can range from using non-slip pads under rugs on hard floors, to installing a lighting system that signals when the doorbell has rung, as some children with CP are hearing impaired. A list of other considerations you need to make when choosing the right home adaptations include:
  • Access into and out of the home
  • Access throughout the interior of the home, removing steps or installing devices to go up and down them
  • Hallways and doorways that are wide enough for your child to use
  • Access to at least one bathroom and the ability to use all its parts
  • Hard floors or low-pile carpeting
  • Access to plug sockets and light switches
  • Able to open and close doors and windows
  • Grab bars attached to reinforced walls
  • Install automatic openers on doors or lever handles
  • Make sure they can reach counters in the bathroom and kitchen by altering their height
  • Access to the garden or other outdoor areas
  • Moving around the home if they are in a wheelchair or require a walking aid
  • Any other adaptive equipment for cerebral palsy

Can I Get Help with the Adaptations?

Now that you have an idea of how you might adapt the home for a child with cerebral palsy, you might be a bit overwhelmed with the amount of work it takes and how much it’s going to cost. Thankfully, there are people who can help you with this, and there are grants you can get to cover the costs. Here are the questions we’re going to consider, to help you with your home adaptations:
  • Can I consult with an occupational therapist?
  • Can I get funding to help with the adaptations?
  • Where will I find a contractor if I am funding the adaptation myself?

Occupational Therapist

You should be able to get advice from an occupational therapist who specialises in housing adaptations. This is often free through the NHS or social services, if you live in the UK, and I’m sure there are similar programmes for those reading this article in other countries.

The therapist will be able to assess your needs based on the severity of your child’s condition and advise you on what modifications you need. Before you decide to go ahead with the adaptations, you should consider whether your property is rented or not, as it’s unlikely you’ll be able to make huge modifications to a rented property. If this is the case the occupational therapist can help you find a new place to live that will allow you to do so.

Funding Your Home Adaptation

Once you have an idea of what you need for your home, either from your own observations or those of an occupational therapist, you need to figure out how you’re going to fund it. As we mentioned at the start of this post, if your child with cerebral palsy was the victim of medical negligence by a doctor, you could claim compensation from the hospital to help pay for the home modifications, and other funding to help them through their life.

That said, for those who don’t have this option, there are government grants that can assist with the expenses. In the UK, you can receive up to £30,000 to modify your home for a child with cerebral palsy. How much you get does depend on your household income and savings over £6,000 as you might need to pay towards the cost of the work if you earn a high income.

They will pay you the grant either in instalments as the work progresses, or in full when the work is finished. They might pay the contractor directly or give you a cheque to pass on to them, but they’ll agree this with you when they approve your application. 

If you fancy doing the work yourself, the council won’t pay you for your labour. They will only pay for the cost of the materials, so it’s worth getting in a contractor to do the work.

Finding a Contractor

You can go online and search for a contractor who specifically deals with home adaptations, if you want to pay for the work yourself. If you need help with this, and with liaising with occupational therapists or setting up a government grant, you can speak to your local Home Improvement Agency and they can sort it all for you.

Should I Get Started?

If you have a child with cerebral palsy, the best thing you can do for them is adapt their home to make them feel safe and independent. The only thing that might stop you from doing this is money, and not knowing where to get started.

Thankfully, as we’ve mentioned in this post, there are government grants available to pay for the adaptations. There are also occupational therapists who can help you decide what work needs doing.

Giving your child the best life possible is the only thing that matters, so we hope this article has helped you to feel as though you can achieve this. If you have any more advice or suggestions, do leave a comment down below, and get involved so we can share our words of wisdom with each other.

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