Home modifications are regarded as being beneficial to people who wish to remain in their homes as they age in place and younger people with disability that wish to live in regular housing. The benefits of home modifications include reducing trip hazards and increasing functional independence that maximises an individual's independence and safety.
Home Modification and Maintenance providers deliver affordable and cost effective modifications and maintenance solutions for older people and people with disability. Providers assist people to live safely and independently in their own home by modifying the home according to the specific needs of the individual.
The types of modifications available range from the basic (such as installation of grab-rails, handrails, lever taps, step-wedges and widening doorways) to the complex (such as the installation of ramps and bathroom and kitchen modifications) usually based on a detailed assessment by an Occupational Therapist.
There is currently no nationally consistent fees schedule that applies to home modification or maintenance services. Each provider sets its own fee structure reflecting contractor and material costs in each region. Therefore fees will vary. Contact your local service provider for an indicative cost of a particular service.
In Australia there are a number of schemes available to both older people and people with disability that include home modifications within their schedule of benefits. It should be noted that many schemes require some form of client contribution to cover the cost of any modifications required.
Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP)
A range of services, including home modifications and maintenance for people aged 65+ (or 50+ for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders) on a pension. Contact My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 or visit their website for more information.
Commonwealth Home Care Packages (CHCP)
Packages of care for older clients with needs assessed as being higher than those able to be serviced under the CHSP. Set fees are charged based on a means test. Where home modifications are required the full cost is covered from a combination of the package funds and a client fee. Details about the packages can be found on the website.
National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
For people aged under 65 (or 50 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders) with a disability. The NDIS is gradually being rolled out across the country. Visit their website to see where they are operating and eligibility criteria.
Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA)
Modifications may be available for individuals eligible to receive financial assistance from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Visit their website or contact them on 133 254 or 1800 011 046 (for regional callers) for more information.
Other support schemes available
If you are an older person or a person with disability that finds it difficult to fully function within your home then you can request an assessment for home modifications through:
Some simple modifications can be done by an experienced builder or other tradesperson, however, an Occupational Therapist will usually be sent to your home to conduct a comprehensive assessment. This assessment is important to ensure that any modification done to your home is based on your particular personal needs to ensure you get the maximum benefit.
This assessment will then be sent to your local Home Modification and Maintenance provider which will organise for an appropriately qualified and experienced builder and/or other trades-people to review the recommendations in order to provide a quote. If the builder identifies any potential issues they will discuss these with the OT and identify an appropriate solution. Once the quote has been finalised you should be provided with a copy and a 'Scope of Works' that outlines exactly what modifications have been recommended for you and the cost. You can request changes to be made or additional modifications at this stage if you wish, but anything that is beyond what is deemed reasonable and necessary for your condition will not be eligible for any subsidy it will be at your expense.
Once you have agreed with the 'Scope of Works' and the quote provided and details regarding payment have been finalised the provider will schedule your modifications and advise you when to expect the builder and how long it may take.
Once the modifications have been completed the Occupational Therapist should return and 'sign-off' on the work to ensure that it has been done according to their recommendations.
If thinking about modifying your home it is always better to utilise the services of your local home modification provider. They have the necessary experience and expertise to ensure any modifications made to your home are appropriate to your needs and comply with the relevant Australian Standards and regulations.
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