Equipment for Older or Disabled People and the Law

This comprehensive book explains the provision, both law and practice, of equipment and home adaptations to assist older or disabled people in daily living. Characterised by ill-defined statutory responsibilities and terminology, and an under-developed consumer retail market, the system of provision has long been recognised as chaotic and confusing for professionals and public alike. This is despite the fact that equipment and adaptations are meant to be a central plank of community care.

Necessarily wide-ranging but maintaining its focus, the book aims critically to describe the system and thereby promote better practice. By exploring boundaries and breaking points of the system, it will also assist people to understand the law when things go wrong - from negligence to judicial review, and from contract to product safety legislation. Providing both overviews and extensive details, and so capable of use on various levels, the book will be indispensable to managers and practitioners in statutory services (social services, the NHS, housing, education and employment), advice agencies, voluntary organisations, manufacturers and suppliers, educational institutions, and lawyers.

The range of items covered is great, from alarms to artificial limbs, baths to bedrooms, chopping boards to crutches, electronic toothbrushes to environmental controls, hearing aids to hoists, incontinence pads to ironing equipment, rails to ramps, speech aids to stairlifts, and walking frames to wheelchairs.

Part I summarises provision and picks out main themes - including conflicts, contradictions and anxieties - emerging from a complex web of legislation, common law, guidance, everyday practices, complaints procedures, ombudsmen, formal legal remedies, broader welfare and consumer issues, and interaction of the public, private and voluntary sectors. It is pointed out that the rationing and fragmentation of welfare services, proliferation of community care legislation and guidance, and implementation of European Community Directives have merely added to the complexity.

Part II explains systematically and in detail how, and on what legal basis, equipment and adaptations are provided by statutory services for people's social care, health care, housing, education and employment needs. Also covered is provision for people in residential and nursing homes.

Spanning disparate areas of law, Part III illustrates what happens when things go wrong - outlining the law of negligence, and contractual issues arising about price, quality and `fitness of purpose' when people buy their own equipment. It discusses increasingly prominent European Community Directives and UK Regulations which impose legal liability in relation to defective products, lifting and handling, medical devices and general product safety. Both judicial review by the law courts and investigations by the ombudsmen are described, crucial remedies when people challenge - or statutory services defend - assessments, service delivery and rationing.

Finally, Part IV lists, A-Z, equipment types from Air beds to Writing equipment, detailing what they are, how they are provided and by whom.
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