This is an interesting area of discussion and something I am faced with on a regular basis working in an area with high percentage of residents from differing ethnic backgrounds.
I am an occupational therapist employed by a housing department and would like to reiterate the comments made by Shaun Aldis. Under DFG legilsation all assessments of need for equipment ('aids' is really an out of date term now) and adaptations to assist and promote independence have always considered cultural needs sensitivity wherever possible however the disability is the primary issue.
For example i have on a number of occasions recommended for an existing Asian style toilet be removed and a western style wc be fitted due to someone's mobilty problems, safety and independence. Handwash basins are always provided and hand shower attachments can provide a good cost effective solution and demonstrates good inclusive design practice. Showers V Baths is another common issue I'm faced with and whilst bathing equipment can assist someone who has difficulty getting in / out of a bath, bathing with running water is often more acceptable. If funding or local criteria cannot provide a shower over the bath or a wetroom type shower then sometimes providing a bath seat and a plastic jug to wash down with is often more acceptable than using a Bathlift and sitting in bath water.
Another common issue i face is where properties are overcrowded and an additional living room need to be utilised as bedroom for a family member with a disability or that needs to have ground floor facilities. Again the disability needs are the primary concern and the compromise is that sometimes the family lose a communal room on the ground floor which may have been used for social gatherings where the men use one room and the females use the other. This is particularly common with large families living in smaller terraced properties or where extending the property is not feasible or cost effective.
There is a lot of good resources out there to discuss these issues and develop good inclusive working practices. I regularly do visits to families with our Asian Carers Group and social worker to ensure that my assessments are sensitive and appropriate.
DFG funding is tight and local criteria seems to vary from authority to authority however there are opportunities for OT's like my self to work alongside housing associations and local authorities at the design stage with new builds or major refurbs to provide facilities that more appropriately reflect the needs of our wider communities and I feel that this is the key for the future.
It is also important to consider that equipment and adaptations may not be the only solution to these issues. Reablement programmes have seen intensive therapy input and care support for those appropriate to assist them adapt, maintain and sometimes improve following health and / or short term disabilities and these sorts of solutions are vital to an OT's holistic approach when assessing. There are some great care agencies set up that provide appropriate support, understanding of cultural and language issues for families and these can often be implemented a lot quicker than the organisation of permanent and sometimes costly adaptations.
Anyway - just some food for thought!