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26% of Homes Battle Bathing Difficulties — Yet 65% Could be Missing Out on Financial Support

A YouGov survey shows that a shockingly high number of all UK adults aged 50 or over either struggle themselves or live with someone who faces challenges when having a shower or bath. While this statistic is alarming, it merely scratches the surface of a broader issue.


With more than 21 million people aged 50 or over currently living in the UK, the findings from the YouGov survey paint a worrying picture of missed opportunities to modify housing to meet the needs of an ageing population. 


Key findings of the survey include;

  • 26% agreed that at least one person in their household experiences difficulty bathing or showering.
  • 42% have installed mobility bathroom adaptations to make bathing or showering easier.
  • 65% are not aware of financial assistance available through the Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) for home adaptations. 


Age Care Bathrooms commissioned the YouGov survey in April 2024 to investigate the current housing situation for people 50 and older, specifically focused on challenges in the bathroom. What’s particularly concerning is the growing lack of access to suitable housing for older adults in the UK.

Lack of Awareness of Financial Assistance Available 

Despite the evident need, the survey found that a staggering 65% of individuals in this demographic are unaware of Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs). These grants can fund modifications like replacing standard showers and baths with more accessible options such as walk-in baths or showers.


With 42% of households opting for mobility bathroom adaptations, this underscores the urgent need to ensure homes meet the needs of individuals with disabilities. 


Looking further into the demographics, we find that 44% of participants are grandparents, and 84% have no children in their household. This demographic breakdown highlights the focus on older adults who may be living independently, with recent statistics indicating that a quarter of people aged 50 or over live alone, further emphasising the importance of addressing these challenges.


Related Reading: Elderly Bathroom Accessories


The results from this survey are also supported by research from the Habinteg Housing Association in 2022 that highlights the pressing need for accessible housing options across the UK. This study revealed that 20,000 individuals are on a waiting list for wheelchair-accessible homes, with an additional 104,000 waiting for suitable homes for their specific needs. 


These figures underscore the critical importance of addressing the shortage of suitable housing options to ensure equitable access for individuals with disabilities. This clearly shows that the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) is not providing the support it is designed for.


Issues around the DFG were highlighted by the social care White Paper People at the Heart of Care: adult social care reform, last updated in March 2022. The paper proposed raising the grant limit, reviewing DFG eligibility and introducing a fund for minor repairs. However, the expected consultations on these changes haven’t taken place yet.


This has since been followed by a government review in April 2023, which identified numerous issues, including:

  • Limited advertising of DFGs for fear of stimulating demand
  • Not enough funding to meet the demand for home adaptations, leading to delays
  • Restrictive upper limits on grant
  • High levels of “dropouts” due to a requirement to contribute.


Now, let’s talk about savings. The means test takes into account your income and savings, as well as those of your spouse or partner, if applicable. However, what’s striking is that only the first £6,000 of household savings are exempted from the means test. 


It’s also important to note the lack of clear guidance on the means test for the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG). Each local authority has its own policy, leading to inconsistency in income and savings limits for means testing. This inconsistency can cause confusion and anxiety for applicants. While the DFG provides financial assistance for home adaptations, it is evident that clearer information and support for individuals applying for the grant is needed.


Mobility bathroom adaptations are essential for inclusive living, supporting dignity, independence, and safety at home. To meet these needs, we must raise awareness of available resources and financial help, enabling people to improve accessibility in their homes. At Age Care Bathrooms, we witness daily the positive impact of mobility bathroom adaptations on the lives of elderly people and people with a range of disabilities and health conditions. 


Unfortunately, due to financial constraints, we have been unable to supply complete bathroom solutions to some of our customers. Many older persons may be scared to apply for the DFG because they do not want to spend their entire savings on mobility bathroom adaptations. Not only does the means test require more clarity, but it is also clear that the present maximum savings limit of £6000 should be revisited. 

Campaign for Change 

We call on the Government to take these issues seriously and to respond to requests for clarification of eligibility criteria and a review of the savings exemption. Take part as we campaign for greater accessibility to the DFG  for everyone who needs it. Join the petition to help our loved ones in a significant way.


Sign our petition with change.org today.


With over 30 years of experience, our team of bathroom experts at Age Care Bathrooms is happy to offer help and advice without any obligation. Arrange a free home survey or speak with our team of bathroom experts by phone, and we will assist you in selecting the bathroom that best suits your requirements.

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