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Navigating the complexities of NDIS home modifications

Ensuring you are safe and comfortable at home is one of the primary functions of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Home modifications can be funded through the NDIS to enable you to have access and use of all the areas of your home.

This article outlines the different types of NDIS home modifications that you can access, and goes into more detail about the technical aspects of these home improvements.

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    Brief background of the National Disability Insurance Scheme

    The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is an initiative of the Australian Government to deliver support to people with disabilities. Under the scheme, eligible people can receive funding to be spent on the services, equipment and adaptions they require.

    NDIS program recipients receive funding for what they need and are empowered to make decisions about when and how the monies are spent. The NDIS program is a transformative initiative that has revolutionised the disability sector in Australia.

    The NDIS began in 2013 and was fully rolled out by 2020. To learn more about how the NDIS works, check out our earlier blogs on eligibility criteria and funding.

    Home modification within the NDIS

    The NDIS focuses on concepts of access and inclusion. Within this, a key objective of the NDIS is to ensure participants have a safe, functional and comfortable home of their choosing.

    The NDIS will provide funding to people to enable them to achieve the goals outlined in their NDIS plan. Making changes at home can improve the living spaces, improve access and enhance quality of life.

    Home modifications can be undertaken when it is difficult or dangerous for you to:

    • move around at home

    • use the toilet, shower or bathroom safely

    • access all of the rooms or spaces at home

    • achieve your goals at home

    Accessible homes

    It is important that people can access and use all the rooms at home, for example, that it is easy and safe to use the toilet and bathroom.

    If NDIS participants can’t access all of the spaces in their home, they may miss out on important parts of life, and it may be difficult for their carers and support people to safely help them. NDIS home modifications can make a real difference in terms of quality of life and improve confidence, capability and care.

    Home modifications enable a person to more easily undertake the activities of daily life and improve overall well being. They can make it easier to receive support for personal care and meal preparation.

    The priority areas for home modifications are typically the participant’s bedroom, living area, meal area and bathroom. An occupational therapist can help to determine which modifications will make the most difference.

    What are home modifications?

    Home modifications are any changes made to a home to make the home more useful or functional. Home modifications may refer to simple changes, like lowering a light switch so it is accessible, or major changes like widening doorways or altering the arrangement of the bathroom.

    NDIS funds can cover the cost of making these changes.

    The NDIS can not fund changes or adaptions which are the responsibility of the home owner, participant or another service provider.

    Minor modifications

    Minor home modifications under the NDIS are smaller changes at home, that cost under $20,000. Minor modifications may be only small changes, but they can play a crucial role in helping an NDIS participant to live independently.

    There are a broad range of adaptions available within the minor modifications range, but all minor modifications fit into one of two categories

    • Category A minor home modifications cost less that $10,000

    • Category B minor home modifications cost between $10,000 and $20,000 or, are described as minor modifications to a bathroom floor. This particular modification is considered minor, even if the cost exceeds $20,000.

    Minor home modifications are non structural and do not change the structure of a floor. You must obtain written approval of the home owner to make minor home modifications.

    Examples of minor home modifications that might be recommended by an occupational therapist include:

    • lever style door handles

    • grab bars or grab rails

    • shower chair use

    • minor adjustments or relocation of switches and locks

    Complex home modifications

    Complex home modifications are more significant changes to a home to create spaces that improve independence and provide you with long term benefit that will improve you quality of life. Complex home modifications assessments must be carried out by an occupational therapist.

    Examples of complex home modifications include:

    • widening doors or hallways to a living space or bedroom

    • adaptations in the kitchen including rearranging or repositioning benchtops and appliances

    • custom built changes in bathrooms to enable better personal care

    • lift installations to enable you to reach to higher levels in a home

    If you are seeking funding for complex modifications, speak to your NDIS support coordinator or planner in the first instance. They will be able to arrange a complex home modification assessment to begin the process.

    You must obtain written approval of the home owner to make complex home modifications.

    Criteria for home modifications

    Home modifications through the NDIS should meet all of the criteria outlined on the NDIS webpage regarding what is deemed to be reasonable and necessary. A summary of this criteria means that the home modifications should:

    • be beneficial for the person with a disability

    • be related to the participant’s disability

    • be assessed by an occupational therapist

    • be safe and legal, meeting safety standards across the board

    • be cost effective and of high overall quality

    • reduce the participant’s need for other funded supports

    • facilitate the participant’s involvement in social and community life and reduce barriers to economic participation where possible

    Funding for modifications in rooms you don’t often use, such as the bedrooms of other adults that you live with, will not commonly be provided.

    What are home automations?

    Home automations are technologies that carry out tasks for you. Home automations can help you respond to unique challenges related to your disability. Examples of automations include:

    • automatic lighting that turns on when you enter a room

    • automated doors that open for you

    • heating and cooling systems that turn on automatically for your to keep you comfortable

    Home automations can be funded as NDIS home modifications.

    Funding considerations for NDIS home modifications

    Other points to consider include:

    • Your NDIS funding for supports may be reduced once modifications are carried out, because you may be able to manage some tasks or activities more independently.

    • You should keep all quotes and invoices for home modifications, in case these documents are required for audits or warranty claims.

    • You are responsible for checking that all tradespeople who enter your home to carry out modifications are properly licensed, and have the appropriate trade qualifications and insurance.

    Home modifications assessment

    To be able to provide funding for home modifications, you must provide evidence to the NDIA. Evidence for home modifications may include:

    • a statement about your need for the modification, prepared by a registered occupational therapist and outlining how modifications relate to your disability

    • a summary about why the proposed modifications are both reasonable and necessary, including a scope for the works and a statement about activities conducted in the planning phase

    • plans that indicate the changes or home modifications required

    • information about the viability of the proposed changes or home modifications

    • timelines/ milestones for the proposed changes or home modifications

    • quotes showing the costs for the proposed changes or home modifications

    A home modification assessor should also outline how other options and supports have been considered. If multiple options for modifications are presented, should indicate which is the participant’s preference.

    Home modification assessors

    A home modification assessor is a suitably qualified occupational therapist who carries out the home modifications assessment. A home modification assessor should attend the NDIS participant’s home and involve them in the assessment process. The assessor must outline the modifications needed and demonstrate why they are required and the benefit the modifications will bring.

    Home modifications assessors have responsibilities to explain the assessment process, their role and how the NDIS approval system works.

    Home modification assessors do not make the decisions about what modifications can be made. The NDIA make the decision to approve NDIS financial support for modifications. The assessor’s job is to create a clear and convincing outline of the changes required.

    About home modification assessors

    Home modifications assessors:

    • must have meet registration requirements as an occupational therapist and work at senior clinician level

    • must have completed specific home modifications NDIA authorised training to understand the requirements of completing home modifications

    • have often completed training modules CPPACC4020 or CPPACC5016

    • are often associate members (or higher) of the Association of Consultants within the Association of Consultants in Access Australia (ACAA)

    Seeking building consultations

    Once the assessment and planning process has been undertaken, it is time to engage a building construction partner or building works project manager. Complex home modifications must be undertaken in partnership with a building construction practitioner to plan the recommended scope of works. 

    The building construction practitioner will be funded separately from the building work as part of the overall NDIS funding.

    Home modification design and standards

    Once the complex home modification assessment has been conducted, the building works project manager can help ensure relevant permits and building approvals for modifications are granted. This can involved planning meetings with state and local governments.

    Relevant authorities must be consulted to ensure that the home modification process is compliant and any safety concerns are addressed before works commence.

    NDIS home modification budgets

    The NDIS Pricing Arrangements and Price Limits document outlines the limits for funding under each of the plan categories. The Minor home modification budget levels states how funding levels are calculate for minor NDIS home modifications. Prices are updated regularly in response to building industry data.

    Self-managed participants pay providers directly for Home Modification supports and services.

    Quotes for home modifications in the NDIS

    Obtaining quotes is an important step towards complex modifications. You must obtain two itemised quotes for complex home modifications. Quote produced to be inclusive of GST and outline:

    • dimensions of the area being changed (for example the measurements of walls to be tiled)

    • a separate costing for each stage of the job (for example demolition, plumbing and electrical work in separate stages)

    • a description of any fixtures or items provided by the builder as part of the works (including make, model and cost)

    Minor home modifications under $20,000 do not require quotes.

    Personalised home modifications

    The NDIS usually fund standard modifications and fittings. This means that basic, functional materials are chosen. Although NDIS funding covers the necessary modifications, you have the option to use your own monies for extra upgrades beyond what is provided by the scheme.

    This added flexibility enables you to personalise and design your living spaces even further, by integrating improvements that exceed the standard modifications. For example, during bathroom modifications, you may prefer a more decorative cabinet, or tiles with a different colour or finish.

    You can pay the additional costs to have your selected materials installed. You should not spend any of your own money until your funding request is approved and planning is well underway. This is because your request may not be accepted or your plan may need to change on advice from the NDIA.

    Wait until you are sure works are going ahead before spending any of your own money.

    Nursed Care for NDIS Plan Management

    Nursed Care is an NDIS approved and authorised service provider located in New South Wales. We support NDIS participants with planning for and using NDIS funding across all category types. We provide NIDS plan management services.

    We understand the challenged of navigating the complex NDIS home modification system – the rules and regulations, the safety provisions, requirements and permits.

    We can help ensure you have a detailed understanding of the NDIS home modifications required to give you improved access to your home, in turn enhancing your quality of life.

    We currently have NDIS clients with:

    • permanent physical disability

    • intellectual disability, cognitive impairment and conditions such autism spectrum disorder

    We support our clients in all areas of daily life to achieve their goals and participate fully in community activities. Contact us to learn more.

    Nursed Care for Home Maintenance

    Another way Nursed Care can help NDIS participants is through the provision of home maintenance services. Home maintenance services are simple activities that help make a home safer. We can install grab rails, change light globes and carry out other minor repair jobs.

    Contact Nursed Care for NDIS funded home maintenance tasks to improve your home environment and live independently. We can provide additional support to keep your home safe, organised, functional and comfortable.

    Related Questions

    Home modifications aim to set up your living space in a practical and functional way.

    Once you have had complex home modifications carried out, it is unlikely that further or subsequent funding can be provided. The only time a second application for home modifications funding would be considered would be if your needs, mobility impairments or capabilities changed greatly.

    If your current accommodation is not suitable to meet the needs related to your disability, and you are looking to build a new home, you may be able to receive some funding to assist you. The NDIS can fund disability specific features and fittings in new home builds.

    These features and fittings must be included in the Livable House Design Standard from the Australian Budling Codes Board.

    A specialist support coordinator may have a degree in social work, psychology, nursing, or a related field. A specialist support coordinator will help a person to address the complex barriers they face.

    The NDIS will fund children living with a disability, and all NDIS participants are eligible to apply for funding for a complex home modification upgrade if it is required. The assessment criteria is the same for both children and adults and is intended to enable people to move about in and use their home. The modifications should relate to the individual’s disability and support the participant’s daily activities.

    Need qualified care?

    At Nursed, we offer a full range of care and disability support services, assisting you to live the life you want to live. Contact us today.

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