In our daily lives we don’t usually notice the ease with which we climb the stairs to our apartment, walk around our home, and move from one room to another. But people whose mobility is limited due to an illness or accident, can no longer move freely in their own homes. Various structural modifications and assistive devices are then required to preserve their quality of life. A number of organizations offer assistance in implementing these changes.
Who can help you adapt the home?
The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Construction & Housing are the two government offices responsible for assisting disabled people living in their own homes. These two Ministries have set up a joint committee for adapting both the homes and access to the homes of people with limited mobility.
The disability is determined by a recognized medical institution – kupat holim, hospital or public rehabilitation service. When assistance is approved, it is given in the form of a loan or a grant.
Based on the committee’s decision, additional benefits may be provided by other government agencies, such as the Vehicle Licensing Bureau. Various voluntary nonprofits such as “Yad Sarah” and “Ezer Mitzion”, “Milbat”, can also help you choose the appropriate devices, and lend them to you.
What are the criteria for receiving assistance in making adaptations?
Assistance from the joint committee of the Health and Housing Ministries, is given based on criteria related to the person’s functioning ability as well as his place of residence.
Criteria based on disability
- Individuals whose mobility is limited due to illness or injury.
- Severely ill people (confined to a wheelchair, requiring artificial limbs, crutches etc.).
- Persons who have received assistance in the past, but have suffered a deterioration in their condition, requiring a refitting of their residence – will present documentation from a rehabilitation professional.
- Persons whose work has been relocated to a different city, and the committee understands that their new residence does not suit their needs and is detrimental to their daly functioning.
Criteria related to type of residence:
- Persons living in an apartment they own or for which they pay key money.
- Persons renting an apartment in public housing.
- Individuals living in the home of a relative – son/ daughter, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, as well as a residence in a kibbutz or moshav.
People living in a rented residence are not entitled to this assistance, and neither are victims of traffic accidents and terror attacks and disabled IDF soldiers (who receive assistance from other sources), or people who own more than one apartment, or own an apartment but ask to renovate a relative’s home.
Persons living in public housing (such as Amidar apartments) can apply for assistance from the Ministry of Construction & Housing.
How to obtain assistance?
To obtain assistance, talk to the social worker in the department for prolonged illnesses in the health bureau near your home. Persons residing in public housing should turn directly to the Ministry of Housing.
Documents that should be attached to the request:
- Assistance request form, filled out and signed, in two original copies
- Psychosocial assessment filled out by a social worker in the health bureau, rehabilitation service or social service where the disabled person is treated.
- Medical document from the institution treating the disabled person, describing his functional disability
- Recommendation for changes needed in the home, provided by an occupational therapist from the continuing care unit in the kupat holim, or rehabilitation service
- Recent price quote (up to three months) from a licensed contractor, based on the occupational therapist’s report and approved by him/ her.
- Photocopies of the identity cards of the applicant and relatives residing with him.
- Documents attesting to the income of the applicant and relatives living with him (not required of persons residing in public housing).
- Property tax approval (including block & parcel)
- Persons without homes who wish to adapt the apartment of a first-degree relative must enclose a statement that they will not be allowed to try for rights in a public housing apartment for a period of four years after receiving this assistance.
The social worker at the health bureau delivers all documents to the committee, and a notice about its decision is sent to the applicant’s address.
Forms may be obtained from the social worker of the unit for long-term illnesses at the local health bureau.
How to adapt different rooms in the home
Adapting the home to the new needs of its disabled occupant requires considerable creativity. Try to find solutions that fit both the home and the disabled person. Remember that the wheelchair is 90 cm wide, and must be afforded sufficient space for comfortable movement through the home.
- Bathroom – one of the biggest problems in the bathroom is the height of the side of the bathtub, which makes it hard for a disabled person to get in and out. If possible, consider replacing the tub with a shower stall. If this is not practicable, you can install a bath board that makes it easier to get into the tub in a sitting position, and shower without assistance. Also, the disabled person can sit on a “sitting cushion” filled with water to the desired height. In a shower stall, the person should sit on a plastic chair that is tied to the wall to prevent slipping.
- Hand rails – hand rails are absolutely necessary for people with disabilities. They help them stabilize themselves when standing in the bathtub or shower, and provide security to people who do not use a wheelchair but don’t not always walk steadily. Hand rails should be placed along hallways, as well as stairs, both inside the home and leading to its entrance. Special handrails have been designed for toilets, with a convenient place for toilet paper.
- Toilets – the height of the toilet seat can be a problem for a disabled person – who may find it either too high or too low. A special accessory for raising the seat allows him/her to sit comfortably without bending or crouching.
- Bedroom and bed – most of our clothing is kept in the bedroom closets, which can be too high for disabled persons. To reach their clothes or other items they need, they can use a “helpful hand” device – a stick with a handle that can be used to grasp the clothes or pick things up from the floor. Another bedroom issue is the bed itself. It must be positioned so that the disabled person can comfortably get from the bed to the wheelchair and vice versa, possibly with the help of a handrail fixed next to the bed. Simple devices can raise the bed to facilitate lying down and sitting up.
- Kitchen – adapting the kitchen gives the disabled person a degree of independence in preparing meals. Cupboards and shelves can be lowered, and frequently used utensils and products placed in accessible locations. Cabinets that pull out, with drawers that roll out conveniently, make it easier to look for any specific item. The refrigerator, on the other hand, can be raised so that the user will not need to bend over to access the lower compartments. Reaching and washing dishes in the kitchen sink can be hard from a wheelchair, while standing up to do this may be too tiring, or no option at all. The advisable solution is removing the cabinet under the sink, allowing the disabled person to roll his legs into that space – much like a driver who sits with his legs under the steering wheel. A small folding chair at the right height can help a person who finds it difficult to stand for any length of time while washing the dishes.
For more devices please visit Azarim – the Israeli database of assistive technology and aids.
What home modifications are included in services offered by the State?
The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Construction & Housing assist in funding modifications made both inside and outside the home. Inside, these changes include widening doorways that are too narrow for wheelchairs, necessary adaptations in the kitchen, and enlarging bathrooms and toilets. Changes made outside include paths for easy access to the entrance, handrails and chair-lifts.
We recommend that you watch the film The Home and Environment of a Person Confined to his Home, about adapting the home to the needs of disabled individuals.
The information presented in the English website is partial. For full info please visit our Hebrew website