In June 2016 the ILC Home Modifications and Assistive Technology (HM & AT) project team were asked to submit an article for publication in the Australian Ageing Agenda – Community Care Review journal. The team were delighted to see the article titled Setting a New Standard published in the August 2016 edition.
The article describes the undertaking of the Best Practice Scoping Review conducted as a key component of a partnership project between the WA Home and Community Care (WA HACC) Program and the ILC to develop a sustainable HM & AT service delivery model that would improve outcomes for clients.
The article written by Dr Courtenay Harris, School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work at Curtin University, and Hilary O’Connell and Kelly McAuliffe from the ILC, highlighted the considerable benefits of home modifications. These ranged from slowing down the rate of functional decline and reducing symptoms to improving quality of life and social relationships. For care givers benefits included a sense of reduction in concern and improved safety and sense of security.
Home care organisations providing formal care services also benefited in that the provision of modifications improved the working environment for care staff.
In regards to best practice in home modifications service delivery, key themes identified included accessibility, service assessment, follow up and evaluation, workforce education and training.
Of particular note is the evidence identifying that the outcomes of home modifications are significantly improved when embedded in a reablement approach. Timely access to both equipment and modifications to support reablement are therefore critical to these positive outcomes.
Where to next?
A key objective of the WA HACC/ILC HM & AT project has always been to support consumers and their carers to be better informed about home modifications and assistive technology options and how they can be beneficial in supporting what most older people desire – to stay in their own home and be as independent, safe and secure as possible.
Providing resources, information and consults with staff who have a specialist knowledge in HM & AT will support individuals to have greater control and insight when making decisions about how and why modifications and equipment can support a person’s care needs; and ensure that the environment they are living in is modified to support changing function and mobility.
We already know that provision of appropriate HM & AT supports reablement and in WA we have been working with HM & AT providers to ensure reablement is embedded as part of the HM & AT service model . This next stage of the project continues its alignment with the aged care sector reforms by ensuring strategies and resources to support consumer choice and control are top of the agenda.