Disability equipment can range from simple daily living aids such as cordless kettle tippers and easy grip cutlery, through to more complex items such as specialist beds and stair lifts. Mobility aids and equipment includes items like walking sticks, wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
This guide provides information on how to get disability equipment for free from your local Health and Social Care Partnership, as well as buying, selling, hiring and donating equipment. It also explains where you can get advice on different equipment types.
If you are looking for information on how to adapt your home to make it more accessible, see our Disabled Home Adaptations information guide .
Getting Equipment from Your Local Council or NHS
Your local council’s Social Work department can provide equipment to individuals, following an assessment of your needs. This is sometimes referred to as community care assessment.
An assessment must be carried out for anyone who appears to need a social care service, for example, if you are disabled, elderly or have a long-term health condition. You can self-refer by contacting your local council’s Social Work department and asking them to carry out an assessment of your care needs. If you prefer, you can ask someone else to do this on your behalf such as a relative, carer or advocate.
To find the telephone number for your Social Work department, either contact our helpline or check online at: https://www.mygov.scot/find-your-local-council
The assessment is usually carried out by a care professional such as an occupational therapist and normally takes place in your own home. They will review your personal circumstances and will look at how you cope with day-to-day living. They may recommend equipment to make life easier for you. The assessment may also recommend other solutions such as getting help with household tasks, adapting your home or moving to new accommodation.
You may have to wait to be seen as waiting lists can be long and assessments are carried out by priority of need. If your needs are assessed as urgent, you may receive some help immediately, before the full assessment is carried out.
The assessment of your care needs is free and equipment supplied as a result of this assessment is free. Be aware that only equipment which the assessment deems essential for your needs, will be provided. Usually councils are unlikely to provide mobility scooters or stair lifts. We have a guide on grant funding which may be useful if you need these items.
The NHS & Wheelchairs
You may also be provided with a wheelchair by the NHS- for example when leaving hospital. You can ask your GP or hospital consultant, NHS physiotherapist or occupational therapist to refer you for a wheelchair assessment. Each Health and Social Care Partnership has their own procedures and eligibility criteria to help them decide what type of wheelchair you’ll receive and how quickly you receive it.
Buying New Disability Equipment
There are many local disability aids and equipment shops throughout Scotland, where you can purchase specialist equipment. If your local area does not have a shop, there are also lots of online shops where you can purchase equipment directly from their websites.
To find out where your local disability aids and equipment shop is, either call us or search our Scottish Disability Directory.
You may be entitled to VAT relief when buying disability equipment. For more information see our VAT Exemption Guide.
If you’re looking for a specialist piece of equipment that’s not on the market, REMAP is a charity that designs, manufactures and supply individual equipment and adaptation solutions for disabled people where no commercial solutions currently exist.
Buying & Selling Second Hand Equipment
There are a few ways to buy or sell second hand disability equipment:
- Check with your local disability supplier if they sell second hand or reconditioned equipment.
- Ask your local disability organisation or club if they know of any local individuals or organisations looking to buy/sell.
- Advertise locally through a newspaper, community centre or local library.
- Buy or sell on the internet. There are a number of websites where you can advertise or buy second hand disability equipment such as:
MobilityBuyers– This is a company which will buy second hand disability equipment from you. Simply fill in their online form for a quote. Due to pickup costs from their premises in Preston, they tend to only buy Scooters and Power Chairs in Scotland.
Freecycle– This is a website where you can donate items for free/receive items for free.
Note: Always exercise caution when buying or selling online. Buying privately does not give you as many consumer rights as buying from a trader. The product & service review website ‘Which?’ have provided information about your shopping rights on an online marketplace here.
Hiring Disability Equipment
If you are going shopping or visiting local leisure facilities, you may be able to borrow or hire a wheelchair from the Shopmobility Scheme. There are Shopmobility outlets at locations throughout Scotland, often in shopping centres. You can hire manual wheelchairs, powered wheelchairs or powered scooters. Anyone with mobility problems can use the service- whether you have a long term disability or simply a broken leg. Some branches will lend wheelchairs for free, while some will charge.
To find Shopmobility schemes in your area, you can search on the Shopmobility website.
Hiring from Disability Equipment Stores
Some disability equipment stores and online retailers also hire out wheelchairs and other disability equipment. If you are struggling to find a store local to you, you can call our helpline on 0300 323 9961 or email us at email@example.com
If purchasing equipment independently, it is always advisable to get advice from a professional.
There are four independent living centres in Scotland (Falkirk, Dundee, Moray and Lothian). They host a permanent exhibition of products and equipment and professional staff are on hand to offer advice. Contact us for more information.
The Disabled Living Foundation (DLF) provide free, impartial information and advice on disability aids and equipment. Call the DLF helpline on 0300 999 0004 or use their AskSARA Guide. The DLF also produce two free online resources. Living Made Easy is an advice and information website about daily living equipment. AskSARA is an easy-to- use online self-help guide that is useful for people who are not sure what equipment might help.
Care Information Scotland provide a telephone and website service providing information about care services, which includes equipment and home adaptations, for older people living in Scotland. Their telephone number is 0800 011 3200.
Rica produce a range of consumer reports to help when purchasing equipment such as bathing and daily living aids, mobility aids and cars.
Donating Second Hand Mobility Aids & Equipment
Do you want to donate a piece of disability equipment that you or your family no longer need? Due to health and safety regulations, it can be challenging to find organisations which will accept donations of second hand equipment. We will list below some organisations which do take donations.
Please note- before you donate, first check whether you received the equipment on loan from the NHS or local council. It may be that you need to return the equipment to this service.
Organisations which will accept donations:
Wheels to Heal are a charity based in Glasgow which sends disability equipment to people in need, abroad. The equipment is mostly sent to countries in Asia and the Middle East such as Lebanon, Iraq and Bangladesh. Although they are based in Glasgow, they collect equipment from most areas in Scotland on a quarterly basis, and have locations where you can drop off equipment too.
You can donate items such as wheelchairs (manual and electric), zimmer frames, rollators, commodes, walking sticks, hoists, medical beds, shower chairs, and disability furniture.
To donate, contact them on:
The Recycle Mobility Centre is a social enterprise which takes used mobility equipment, repairs it if necessary and sells it to someone who needs it, at a reduced price. They are based in Clydebank, but will usually pick up donated equipment from locations across the central belt.
They will take mobility equipment such as wheelchairs, power chairs, scooters, rise and recliners, and more!
The contact details are:
Telephone- 075 925 814 25 or 0141 261 3441
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Stairlift & Mobility Recycling is an organisation which takes donations of used stairlifts and mobility scooters, and sells them on at a reduced price. The organisation will uninstall and uplift your stairlift or mobility scooter for free. However if you have a straight stairlift more than 7 years old or a curved stairlift over 3 years old, there will be a charge for the service. The organisation operates across all of mainland Scotland.
This is a website where you can give items to individuals for free, and also receive items for free.
Medical Beds and Electrical Rise/Recliner Chairs
However, furniture items including beds and chairs can also be donated to charities specializing in used furniture. Not all organisations can take electrical equipment such as Rise & Recliners, so be sure to check before dropping off any equipment.
Some examples of charities taking furniture include:
DEBRA – British Skin Condition charity with furniture stores to donate to, as well as a home collection service.
Society of St Vincent de Paul – Scroll to the bottom of the page linked to download information on donating furniture to this Christian charity in the central belt.
There are also many local projects such as:
Furniture Reuse Project– Fife’s Second Hand Furniture Charity
Phone numbers: 01334 654445 (Cupar) or 01592 501068 (Glenrothes)
For help finding a local furniture project in your area, please call our helpline on 0300 323 9961 .
Walking Sticks & Crutches
Walking Sticks and Crutches will be accepted by many high street charity shops. Always check with a store before dropping off items.
For example, many Red Cross Charity Shops, will take these items.
Alarms & Monitors for the Home & Personal Use
For information on Alarms and Monitors please call our helpline on 0300 323 9961.
Information last updated on 27 October 2023. Please note that information may be subject to change. All information is provided in good faith but Disability Information Scotland does not endorse any product or service referred to within this resource.
If you would like this information guide in another version then please contact us and we will post or email you a copy.
Aids, Equipment & Adaptations:Frequently Asked Questions
Through our helpline we receive enquiries spanning a wide range of different topics. Here is a selection of those most asked:
How can I get an adaptation made to my house?
Housing adaptations can reduce the risk of accidents at home and promote independence.
If you are disabled, or someone in your home is disabled, you may get help with a wide range of adaptations to your home. Examples of adaptations include:
- Replacing a bath with a level access shower.
- Making it easier to get into and out of the house by widening doors or making a ramp.
- Fitting lower worktops in a kitchen.
Smaller adaptions can also be made, such as:
- Fitting a grab rail
- Provision of a shower chair
In most cases, as a starting point you should contact your local Social Work Department and ask for an Assessment of Needs, which is usually done by an Occupational Therapist (O.T.).
For further information see our Disabled Home Adaptations Information Guide.
Am I eligible for VAT relief on disability equipment?
In general, disabled people do not have to pay VAT on goods and services that are designed/ or adapted solely for use by disabled people. These goods and services are often called ‘zero-rated’ or ‘eligible for VAT relief’.
The majority of suppliers will know if their product has been specifically designed to help disabled people. They will offer their products free of VAT at the point of sale.
You’ll need to confirm in writing that you meet these conditions. Your supplier may give you a form for this.
Most suppliers will use the Notice 701/7 VAT relief for disabled people form.
For further information see our VAT Exemption for Disabled Goods Information Guide or call our helpline on 0300 323 9961.
I am going on holiday, how do I hire a mobility scooter or wheel chair when I am there?
If you are staying within the UK you can search for a Shop Mobility local to where you are going. Another option would be to search for local mobility equipment providers.
The Mobility Equipment Hire Direct is a one stop shop to hire a wide range of mobility equipment in a variety of destinations from anywhere in the world using your chosen currency and in your chosen language.
Helpline: 0300 323 9961
For further information on hiring equipment away from home check out our Accessible Holidays Information Guide
I’m struggling getting in and out of my bath, is there any support that I can get?
Often we get individuals phoning because they are struggling with getting in and out of their bath. The first step would be to contact your local social work department to arrange an Assessment of Needs. You might be eligible to get an adaptation, such as a walk in shower, made to your bathroom. For more information see our Assessment of Needs Information Guide.
Aids, Equipment & Adaptations:Search for Local Organisations
Our quick search tool can connect you to over 3000 service providers, suppliers and organisations supporting people across Scotland. To find support near you, simply enter your search term and select your local authority.