Home modifications, whether funded by NDIS or other insurance schemes, My Aged Care or self-funded, can help you or your loved one to use the home more easily and safely. But what if there was another way? What if home modifications aren’t an option? What else can be done?
In my time as an occupational therapist, and particularly in my recent role working with people with progressive neurodegenerative conditions and in palliative care, I have seen may times when home modifications are not the answer. Here are some points for you to consider if you are thinking about home modifications for yourself or your loved one:
This is perhaps the biggest reason I find that home modifications are not the solution. When we begin talking about home modifications, I will usually ask you two questions:
- How long are you going to need increased access to your home? Is it worth changing how your home looks, and how you use your home if your condition is expected to improve over a few months?
The reality is that if you are wanting your home modifications to be funded by an insurance or government funding scheme, there is an approval process which takes time. Will you still need these modifications 6, 12 or 18 months down the track when approval has been granted and the modifications complete? Or can your Occupational Therapist suggest using Assistive Technology (a.k.a. equipment or adaptive aids) to get you through to a time when you return to your previous function?
- How much time have you got? This brutal question is one that many of my clients and I need to discuss before we go down the home modifications path. I work in the field of palliative care, and with clients with rapidly progressing neurodegenerative conditions, such as Motor Neurone Disease. I mentioned above how long the funding approval process can take. Sadly, many of the people I see just don’t have this much time left. So, using some clever assistive technology is most likely to help in this situation
How it looks
Aesthetics is a valid consideration. For some, their home and how it looks is an immense sense of pride. Whilst options for home modifications have vastly improved over the years, (check out this gorgeous range of matt black grab rails and shower bench from Con Serv) sticking a grab rail beside the toilet may not be in your interior design or meet your feng shui ideals. Having your home feel like a home is important and it may be that your occupational therapist can look at assistive technology or equipment alternatives to grab rails and other minor modifications in some scenarios. This equipment can be put away when you are not using it, leaving the home looking more pleasing to some.
Is this my forever home?
Is your home a rental? Are you thinking of selling in the near future? This is especially important for NDIS funding. NDIS will only fund, for example, a bathroom modification once, so if you are likely to need to relocate from your rental, or planning on moving homes, assistive technology may be better to meet your needs without home modifications.
The decision to have your home modified is complex, with many factors to be considered. Your occupational therapist will talk to you to find out what you want and what suits you best to make your home the most Capable Space it can be for you!