Topic: 10

Home Safety, Fall Prevention, Assistive Devices

What You Need to Know

When caring for someone at home, you need to think about where most of the care will be provided.

  • Will the person’s bed be moved downstairs to the family room?
  • Will the person’s bed stay in a bedroom?
  • Can the person climb stairs?
  • How close is the bathroom?

Adapting Your Home

With a few simple changes you can adapt your home without too much disruption.

  • Remove throw rugs that can a tripping hazard.
  • Use lights at the top and bottom of stairs.
  • Add a strip of contrasting colour on the stair edge using a piece of bright coloured duct tape.
  • Keep floors dry; wet or slippery floors are often a tripping hazard.
  • Remove toys, papers, magazines, cables from the floor that could be tripped over.
  • Create a special area near the person’s bed and/or chair with special family pictures, mementoes, and where music can be played.
  • Place a small table with a light on it near the bed and at the height of the bed for medications, snacks, IPad, a journal, a phone, etc.
  • Use a comfortable armchair that isn’t too low so the person can get in and out of the chair.
  • If the bed is high, add a sturdy foot stool to help the person get in and out of bed with some assistance.
  • A small bell or even a baby monitor helps with letting you know that the person needs you.
  • Install a grab bar near the tub and toilet.
  • Make sure that pant legs are not too long and are properly hemmed.
  • Help the person put on shoes or sturdy slippers as stocking feet are slippery.
  • Use this phrase often when helping the person move: Take your time!

Home Aids

The visiting nurse and/or occupational therapist may have other home aids that will make life easier for you as the caregiver and for the person you are caring for. Many of these items can be rented or borrowed.

Hospital bed (common features include adjustable height for the whole bed, just the head of the bed or just the foot of the bed side rails, electronic beds to operate the bed)

Commode that can also be used in the shower (a portable toilet that looks like the combination of a wheelchair and a bed pan; some can even be rolled into the shower)

Wheelchair or Walker Bathroom rails (can be attached in the shower, bathtub, and near the toilet to allow someone to help pull themselves up and prevent falling)

Bed rails (can be attached on any bed to prevent falling out of bed and to assist with sitting up)

Hot water bottle (made of rubber can contain hot water and placed anywhere a person needs the comfort of extra heat)

Cane, crutches Bath board (provide a seated platform area over the bath so that someone who has difficulty stepping in/out of the bath can complete a seated transfer)

Rubber sheets (save the mattress from becoming wet)

Raised toilet seat (attaches to your own toilet to raise the seat height)

Gel or foam cushion (are used to prevent pressure sores)

Lift chair (power lift and recline to help a person get out of a chair)

Overbed table (a narrow, rectangular table on wheels that extends over the bed for eating or other activities)

Hair washing tray (is contoured to fit the neck comfortably and rest the person’ shoulders for easy shampooing in a seated position)

Nightlight (is an important safety for older adults for whom falls are a leading cause of injury=related deaths. Not all nightlights are equally well made and some may actually be a fire hazard. Be sure to check with an electrician before installing a night light.)

Trapeze bar (attaches to the ceiling over the bed and is grabbed by the patient to help swing and transfer the person to standing and lying positions)

Sheepskin (a small fluffy pad to help reduce skin irritation when lying or sitting)

Incontinence pads (disposable items to cover chairs or mattresses)

Bolster or Wedge (helps prevent pressure soars, helps with turning or positioning heavier people)

Transfer belt (used to help safely transfer a person from a bed to a wheelchair and vice-versa)

Assistive Devices

Assistive devices are tools that help a weak or disabled person hold objects, open and close things, transfer weight while shifting positions, or walk. There are so many devices that make life at home more accessible. Besides the items listed above, look at the images and descriptions of these other useful items that may be of benefit to your situation.

The Transfer Mat is a flexible, non-slip pad designed to provide a stable pivot point that helps with the transition from a seated position to standing.

This stable bean bag base will conform to any lap or surface and is ideal for bed or wheelchair use.

A hand grip makes grasping a utensil or pen or brush much easier

A toilet seat extender can be very helpful


Watch the video to learn more about how to prevent falls at home.

Watch this video to learn how to help a person move from a bed to a chair.

Use these additional resources to learn more about the topic of home safety, fall prevention and assistive devices.

Ontario’s Assistive Devices program

March of Dimes Assistive Devices Program

Fall Prevention 

Transferring Someone In and Out of Bed