The features that we need in homes evolve constantly throughout our lives. With the right advice and some suitable modifications, you can keep living happily – and safely – in your own home for longer.
Have you noticed lately that it’s become a little harder to put the groceries away in the top cupboard? Are you wary about slipping in the bathroom? Or is finding the living room light switch a daily challenge?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, it may be a good time to take a look at the set-up of your home. Some modifications could help to increase your comfort and safety at home.
While we tend not to notice it at the time, the types of features we need in our homes are constantly evolving. Young home leavers may be content sitting on milk crates and bean bags, but established families require more creature comforts. As we grow older, changes in our bodies often make negotiating certain parts of the house a challenge. Bathroom floors that we once walked across with ease start to feel as slippery as ice rinks. And kitchen cupboards that used to be accessible now seem out of reach.
If not addressed, such challenges can lead to frustration, scrapes and scratches, and, eventually, serious falls. And no-one wants to have their independence, health and mobility restricted by injuries such as hip, collarbone or wrist fractures.
The good news?
Modifications in your home can make a world of difference – and they may be cheaper than you think. If you have qualified for the Home Care Packages scheme, you can potentially use some of your funding for home modifications. Or, you might qualify for support via the Commonwealth Home Support Program. If not, you can always pay for the most important changes yourself.
Installing a shower rail that helps you avoid bathroom slips or altering doorways to make it easier to get through are some examples of smart modifications. BaptistCare is an established expert in this field. Our modification specialists are trained to evaluate your current – and future – needs and to suggest modifications that will help you stay strong and independent.
So, what kinds of modifications might be worth considering?
It’s important to note that the types of modifications likely to be covered by government subsidies are very different from general home renovations.
Your Home Care package won’t, for example, cover the cost of a new outdoor deck for entertaining. Instead, the modifications likely to be suggested by BaptistCare specialists are aimed at preventing injuries and keeping you safe.
Some common areas include:
Due to the nature of bathrooms with showers, sinks and baths, wet surfaces are often slippery. Common modifications include fitting hand-held showers and easy-to-use taps, removing shower screens, applying slip-resistant treatments to surfaces.
You can read more here: Home modifications checklist for your bathroom
One of the biggest challenges with kitchens is the height of work and storage surfaces. Because reaching up can become a challenge for some older people, common modifications including lowering bench and cupboard heights or installing new storage solutions.
Throughout the house
Small modifications throughout the rest of the house can make a world of difference to how you get around and function. These include widening doorways to accommodate walkers, lowering light switches and power points to more accessible heights, and installing chair raisers.
Safety and security
Knowing you have all possibilities covered can give you peace of mind. By law, you should already have smoke alarms installed to alert you should a blaze break out. However, you could also install personal alarms to notify family and emergency services should you suffer a fall, dizzy spell or some other medical emergency.
While it might sound like a lot to take in, BaptistCare has experts who know this field inside out.
Your first step would be to have an Occupational Therapist who specialises in working with older people to assess your home for preventative safety modifications. An Occupational Therapist can assess environmental risks, make recommendations, organise installation, and explain how to use your new features.
How to pay for modifications
As previously mentioned, there are a variety of ways you can fund modifications, and BaptistCare can talk you through the options.
If you use BaptistCare, you will receive a quote to help you decide whether to proceed. Our quote will also advise whether you are covered by government subsidies and the amount.
These are your funding options:
However, if you don’t qualify for government funding but need modifications, you may wish to pay for them yourself.
One option is to contact a local handyman or builder. Unfortunately, such tradespeople aren’t typically experienced in working with older people, and they may not fully understand what is needed. A smart option is to engage a BaptistCare expert as a consultant to assess the risks, make recommendations and assist with installation.
Request a government subsidy
If you already receive a level 1, 2, 3 or 4 Home Care Package, you may be able to use this to help fund modifications. Speak to your case manager to explore the options.
If you’re not currently a Home Care recipient, you may still qualify through the Commonwealth Home Services Program. You will need to have your needs assessed by a ‘My Aged Care’ assessor. Call BaptistCare and we can help you organise the assessment. To qualify for either scheme, you must be 65 years of age or over (or be an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person aged 50 years of age or over), be living at home, and require some help to remain safe and independent in your home.
Whether you pay for them yourself or have them subsidised by the government, small modifications can make an enormous difference to your life. You’ll be more comfortable in your own home and enjoy the prospect of living happily and independently for longer.
To work out the best home modification solutions to meet your specific needs, please contact our specialists at BaptistCare’s Customer Engagement Centre on 1300 275 227 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are some more general ideas about modifying your home to live independently for longer.
www.baptistcare.org.au – we have been caring for the community for more than 70 years
www.youchoose.org.au – the place to design home care that is individual as you.