Tips for Home Modifications if you Have a Brain Injury – by Michael Bleasdale

Having a safe and secure home where you are in control of your environment is widely regarded as a foundation of individual wellbeing and successful inclusion in community life. Prior to discharge from hospital, people with brain injury may need to make changes to their homes to enable them to move around safely and to have sense of control over their living environment. Home modifications are, by definition, a customised response to an individual and his or her requirements within the home. Given the diversity of brain injuries, the full range of home modification options apply to brain injury, as discussed below.

First, assessment by an occupational therapist is important to successfully customising the home for people with brain injury. Home modifications for people with brain injury can include ramps outside and inside the house where steps are hard to negotiate. Bathroom modifications often involve the installation of grab bars and creating level-access showers with non-skid mats, all of which can enable people to bathe without assistance. Automation throughout the home, operable via smart phone technology, can allow theperson with brain injury or their carer to open doors and windows, and to monitor outside areas. Hand rails can be installed throughout a house to assist with balance difficulties, and stair lifts are an option for people who find climbing stairs difficult. Simple home changes to consider as needed are taping down loose carpets, and putting cushions on chairs to make it easier to get up.

The cost of modifying a home can be high, as it can involve structural work, and government programmes offer differing levels of financial support. There are specialist home modification providers who focus on supporting people with disability or older people. Home Modifications Australia (MOD.A) is the national peak and industry body for providers of home modifications, which also works to promote the benefits of home modifications, and accessible renovations, to consumers. The industry has grown over the past 30 years to service a number of government programmes, including the former Home and Community Care (HACC, now the Commonwealth Home Support Programme), and the various accident compensation schemes such as icare NSW and the Transport Accident Commission (Victoria). Home modifications are available in the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and are likely to be prominent in the reforms of aged care where ageing is top of the agenda. Details of MOD.A’s members can be found on its website. Brain Injury Australia may be able to assist you in finding funding options and free government services for your home modifications.

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