We speak to MPs about the importance of aids and adaptations for people with arthritis

Lady using an aid to open a jar lid.

Last week (Tuesday 7th May) we held an event in Parliament to raise awareness of aids and adaptations in the home. MPs had to the opportunity to hear from people with arthritis about their experiences of using aids and adaptations and also the challenges in accessing them. The event was part of our Room to Maneouvre campaign, and coincided with the launch of our new policy report.

For people with arthritis and related conditions aids and adaptations can be life changing, helping them to remain independent and reducing the need for more expensive support services. Aids include items such as ‘grabbing’ tools, two-handled saucepans, seat adjusters and tap turners. Adaptations are substantial alterations to the home, for example automatic doors, walk-showers and stair-lifts.

Local authorities in England have a duty to ensure that local residents with arthritis have their needs assessed, and that those who are eligible are provided with aids and minor adaptations (costing less than £1000) free of charge. However, we have found that many people with arthritis are not aware that this support exists or are paying for it themselves. 95% of people we spoke to said that using aids and adaptations had improved their quality of life, but more than 50% who were using them had purchased them themselves.

Over 30 MPs joined us at our event, including the Minister for Social Care, Caroline Dinenage. They spoke to three of our campaigners, Catherine, Maureen and Cara about their experiences and had a chance to try out for themselves just how useful these aids can be. It was also an opportunity for us to call on them to raise the issue in Parliament and ask the Government to ensure all those that are eligible this support receive it.

We also had a number of MPs signing up to become Arthritis Champions in Westminster. This means we now have 106 MPs who have pledged to speak up in Parliament for people with arthritis and demand more for them.

Maureen, who has rheumatoid arthritis, said “I use aids at home, and they help to keep me independent. However, I didn’t realise I could get them through my local authority, and it’s not clear what to do when you need support. I enjoyed being able to speak to MPs about my experiences. It’s important that MPs learn about the problems people with arthritis have accessing aids and adaptations, so they can make sure the right help is available.”

Your support makes all the difference. Many MPs came along to the event after you invited them. If you aren't already a member of our Campaigns Network, please sign up now and we'll be in touch with ways you can get involved.