February 5, 2019

Achieving Independence through Home Modifications

Occupational Therapists are specialists in home modification and can help with how an environment can be updated and modified to better meet a client’s needs and reduce potential challenges.  Client-centred assessment and outcome evaluations provide unique insight into the challenges faced by clients within the aged care sector and clients with a disability.

NDIS define home modifications as, ‘changes to the structure, layout or fittings of the participant’s home that are required to enable the participant to safely access and move around frequently used areas in their home as a result of their disability’.

Home modifications have the potential to allow clients to improve functional performance of daily activities, engagement in meaningful occupations, and create feelings of safety and security during occupational routines and activities.

Complex Home Modifications (CHM) require structural alteration to the building and may also require permits. One example of a CHM is installing a chair lift if the client cannot climb the stairs to the second floor of the home. Other examples can include, structural changes to bathrooms, ramps and the widening of doorways. Simple Home Modifications (SHM) are those that are non-structural and do not require local authority or other permits, such as adding grab rails to bathroom or other walls to provide support during functional mobility and self-care activities. Other examples of SHM can include threshold ramps, hand held showers and handrails. A relatively small modification can have a profound positive impact on the daily function of our clients.

The Building Code of Australia directs the modification process by detailing what we can and cannot do when modifying existing homes. The Australian Standard 1428 is not mandatory for private dwellings but is used as a guide to ensure safe access, and is commonly considered best practice by home modification service providers. Our Occupational Therapists use the AS1428 as a guide when prescribing home modifications, but are able to deviate from the standard if needed, to fit with the environment and meet a person’s functional needs.

What makes our home modifications service great?

1. Timely completion of a person centered, comprehensive assessment of the client’s home modification needs.

2. Open and transparent communication with the client and/or family, as well as the broader health care team throughout the modification process.

3. Development of a cost-effective, functional design in consultation with the client and/or their family, that can be used by the builder to develop the scope of works.

4. Experienced Occupational Therapists with additional training in completing home modifications and certification to meet NDIS standards, with full registration with AHPRA.