Complex Home Modifications Including Lifts

Last updated:
RAP Schedule no.

AL05 (Stair Lift) and AL07 (Vertical Platform Lift) 

AL10 (Ramp – Fixed > 190mm) and AL26 (Ramp Demountable)

AL14 (Step Modifications -  2 or more)

AL15 (Complex Home Modification – Bathroom Modification)

AL23 (Stove Isolation Switch)

AL28 (Complex Home Modification – Other Room Modification)

AM04 (Ceiling Hoist)

AZ03 (Shower Seat – Fold Down)

BE01(Bidet) and BE12 (Bidet – RPZ Valve)

[refer to RAP Schedule]  
Definition

Complex home modifications are defined by DVA as clinically required partial changes to an existing residence to enable the client meet the following goals:

  • remain in their home with enhanced independence and safety
  • reduced dependency upon a carer, and
  • reduced likelihood of admission to care.

Complex home modifications may include but are not limited to platform steps, bathroom modifications such as level entry showers/cut down hobs and ramps.

Lifts/ Stair lifts are defined by DVA as any type of electrical, hydraulic or battery-operated mobility equipment that assists an individual while sitting or standing to access different levels in their home (internally and externally).

There are five different types of lifts/stairlifts listed in RAP Schedule AL05 and AL07:

  • Stair chair
  • Wheelchair Platform Lifts (for step rail)
  • Inclinator
  • Stair climber
  • Vertical Platform Lift (including Waterlift)*

Eligibility

The DVA client must have an assessed clinical need and a:

  • Gold Card, or
  • White Card with an accepted condition relating to the clinical need for the equipment.

* Vertical Platform Lifts will only be supplied in respect of a war caused injury or disease/accepted disability. This applies to both Gold and White Card holders. War widow/ers are not eligible for this item.

Criteria

  • The modification is clinically necessary for the client to use the area.
  • Non-structural modifications and RAP aids are inadequate to facilitate the client’s assessed clinical need.
  • Assistance from carers and community services are inadequate to meet the functional need.
  • A 3 month post-operative recovery period is required prior to consideration of complex modifications e.g. post knee or hip replacements. Installation of rails may be considered.
  • Complex home modifications will only be carried out once and only on the client’s primary residence.
  • Complex home modifications are not funded by DVA for temporary or casual use, such as weekend leave from an aged care home or respite.
  • The client also needs to have the intention to remain living at the residence for the foreseeable future.
  • If a client changes residence following a complex home modification, it is expected that they take into account their lifestyle needs and requirements in choosing the new residence.
  • The move to the residence should have occurred prior to any knowledge of the disability and the client was not reasonably able to foresee the need for the modification at the time of relocation.
  • DVA will fund a complex modification to only one bathroom in a residence. Non-complex modifications may be considered to other bathrooms.

The owner of the property will be required to complete the D1323 Authority to Install /Modify Form agreeing to:

  • the work proceeding
  • the specifications of the modifications
  • advise DVA when the client no longer requires the installed lift/stair lift/demountable and portable ramps, and
  • not seeking financial assistance for the restoration of the property to its former state when the modifications are no longer required.

For more information, see the section of this guideline titled Types of residences and the completion of supporting documentation.

Insurance settlement/ pending settlement The client may not be eligible for complex home modifications if they have received an insurance settlement which should encompass their home modification needs, or when a claim is pending. In the latter instance, however, the Department generally claims against the settlement.
National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) The client may be able to seek assistance through the NDIS. If the client is eligible for NDIS, their plan needs to be reviewed to take into consideration the NDIS component and to ensure there is no duplication or the modifications are not better placed entirely under NDIS

Prescribing

Suitably qualified health provider

All complex home modifications require a suitably qualified Occupational Therapist (OT) to:

  • conduct the in-home functional assessment with the client.
  • complete/collate all required forms and supporting documentation and submit to a contracted supplier.
  • for bathroom and other room modifications only discuss the potential modification with DVA prior to submitting all required forms and supporting documentation to the contracted supplier to ensure that the proposed modification is clinically appropriate.
  • ensure the client and their carer know how to use and maintain the modification and equipment installed, and
  • complete the post modification review form and ensure all works meet the client’s clinical needs and advise DVA of any defects.

Prior approval

Prior approval is required for complex home modifications before any work commences.

AL05, AL07, AL15 and BE01 (Bidet) - There is a limit of one per client for their primary residence.

The prescribing OT needs to send the completed forms with specifications to either DVA or the MFS supplier as per the directions at the top of the D1327 - Complex Home/Access Modification Form

Deciding on the most appropriate item/s

An assessment needs to be conducted by a suitably qualified OT with the client and their carer/s to determine the most appropriate, safe and cost effective way of meeting the client’s clinical need/s.

Simple alternative options such as aids or non-complex modifications must be considered before complex modifications.

The client needs to have the cognitive ability to operate the equipment independently or with assistance from their carer.

Complex home modifications must be based on the client’s current clinical and functional need/s not on leisure, recreational or home security needs.

Lifts and Stair lifts can only be considered where the person or their carer has the capacity to safely use and operate the lift.

If the client is in rented accommodation, then the OT must consider how long the client has lived and expects to live at the residence (length of lease).

See sections below for more specific information prior to prescribing:

  • Types of residences and  supporting documentation required
  • Further guidance

Requesting item/s

The prescribing OT will work with the client and their carer to determine the most suitable and cost-effective solution to meet the client’s clinical need and complete the D1327 - Home/ Access modification Assessment Form and assist the client to complete the D1323 Authority to Install /Modify Form.

Please ensure the client/owner is aware that completing these forms is part of the process and does not guarantee DVA will approve the request.

The prescribing OT is to provide the following documents for consideration through the prior approval process:

Note: DVA OT Advisers may make contact to obtain further information or request documents be altered to better reflect the request and compliance with DVA’s criteria.

To assist you in developing the required specifications for complex home modifications please see the relevant OT Specifications documents under the section ‘Resources for assessing health providers’ on the RAP Overview Page. Please note completion of these is not compulsory.  

For complex home modifications except bathroom and other room

Send documents directly to the DVA contracted supplier of your choice. If required, the supplier will arrange a site visit prior to submitting the application to DVA.

For Bathroom and Other Room modifications

Documents for Bathroom AL15 and Other Room AL28 modifications should be sent directly to rapgeneralenquiries [at] dva.gov.au.

Prior approval for bathroom and other room is a two stage process:

  • DVA will review the prescription request from the prescribing OT to ensure it meets the clinical goals of the client.  
  • If DVA agrees to progress the application, DVA will notify the OT so they can send the documentation to the contracted supplier of their choice.
  • The prescribing OT should meet with the contracted supplier’s builder and the client to review the scope of the works, noting any changes and additional work the client has requested.  The updated forms and supporting documents will then be provided to the contracted supplier by the OT
  • The contracted supplier will then submit documents and the quote to DVA for prior approval for the prescribed works.

If approved DVA will advise the OT, client and contracted supplier to proceed. The contracted supplier’s builder will liaise with the client to schedule the work and project manage all trades. On completion the contracted supplier will advise DVA to make final payment.

When completed the OT will review the home modification on site with the client and carer, to ensure the clinical need/s and goals have been met and the work has been completed as per the OT’s specification. The OT will complete the D9299 - Post home modification report and forward to rapgeneralenquiries [at] dva.gov.au

Supporting documentation for prior approval request

The OT completes the D1327 - Home/ Access modification Assessment Form and provides supporting information which include:

  • plans of the existing and proposed modification with measurements
  • list of specifications (scope of works signed by the owner)
  • photos to support the request. 

The OT will liaise with the contracted supplier of their choice. The contracted supplier will submit the prior approval request, including the documentation from the OT and a quote, to DVA for the prescribed works.

The OT will work with the client to complete the D1323 Authority to Install /Modify Form. This will also be included with the prior approval request.

Additional information

Structural integrity

Complex modifications are only to be carried out when the residence is structurally sound.

Repair of rotten joists or timber, termite damage and broken pipes will not be covered by DVA as they are considered to be the responsibility of the home owner.
Home maintenance

DVA does not undertake or fund general home maintenance or repairs to existing structures such as levelling concrete paths, repairing/replacing unstable bannister rails on stairs, replacing stair treads that are worn or broken as these are classified as the homeowner’s responsibility.

Once completed, the home modification becomes part of the home owner’s property. As such, DVA is not responsible for maintaining funded home modifications, such as re-oiling, removal of moss or re-painting ramps, re-grouting shower tiles.

Access

Access modification should enable direct access to/from the home.

DVA will not accept financial responsibility where modifications to provide access are considered unreasonable e.g. steep pathways, rugged steps, bush blocks.

DVA will not fund complex modifications to properties where it is obvious that internal and external access will be a problem given the natural aging process of the client.

DVA does not supply or install modifications for use on shared access routes.

Paths

Where a client’s physical ability has altered to reliance on a wheelchair or walking aid, an access path may be widened and may be extended to accommodate the use of this aid for direct access to the community from the existing home access point.

A new path is only funded by DVA when connecting a new DVA funded ramp to the closest hard surface for safe and continual access/egress.

DVA does not provide modifications on council owned land.

Steps

DVA does not pay for the installation of steps where steps do not currently exist.

DVA does not repair, maintain or replace steps that do not meet the relevant building code and are uneven and/or unsafe.

Step modifications of two or more steps are considered a complex modification.

Where a modification of less than two steps is required it is considered a simple modification.  Please use AL21 – Non Complex Home Modification – Other Modification and complete the D0992 – Order Form Mobility and Functional Support.

Modifications are limited to widening/increasing depth of the step tread or reducing the height of the step to accommodate a walking aid such as a walking frame, where simpler access and mobility options are not suitable.

Ramps

Ramps enable direct access to the client’s home or to enable the client to continue activities of daily living such as access to a garage, garden, shed or workshop.

Ramps greater than 190mm are considered a complex modification.

Where the ramp is less than 190mm it is considered a simple modification.  Please use AL21 – Non Complex Home Modification – Other Modification and complete the D0992 – Order Form Mobility and Functional Support

Ramps will only be installed in the client’s primary residence.

Ramps are generally installed over existing steps.

Fixed Ramps - When the client no longer requires the ramp, this will remain as a fixture in the premises and DVA will not restore the property to its former state or fund ongoing maintenance costs.

Demountable and Portable Ramps – The client must agree to not sell, modify, damage, destroy or otherwise dispose of the ramp.  The ramp remains the property of DVA. The client or home owner is responsible for notifying DVA of a proposed sale or change of ownership, so the ramp can be removed prior to the transfer.  DVA will not restore the property to its former state.

Lifts/stair lifts

A lift/stair lift can be installed for individual home use only and not on a public access route.

The client must agree to not sell, modify, damage, destroy or otherwise dispose of the lift.  The lift remains the property of DVA. The client or home owner is responsible for notifying DVA of a proposed sale or change of ownership, so the lift or stair lift can be removed prior to the transfer.

The client must report to their GP or OT any changes in their medical condition that may affect their capacity to safely operate the lift.

The client in conjunction with the supplier will be responsible for regular maintenance of the lift/stair lift.  This includes:

  • Keeping the lift in safe working order
  • using the lift safely and solely for the purpose for which it was designed, and
  • not undertaking or attempting to undertake any repairs to the lift.
When the client no longer requires the stair lift, DVA is to be notified to remove the item. DVA will not restore the property to its former state or fund ongoing maintenance costs.

Basic bathroom modifications

DVA will only pay for modifications to one bathroom in a residence.

DVA generally only pays for basic modifications and items. For example, entire walls will not be retiled if matching tiles are unavailable. The closest match to existing tiles is usually considered adequate.

The homeowner may choose higher cost items, additional modifications or changes to decor to be completed at the same time as the essential modification but these are at the homeowner’s own expense. This work should be itemised and a separate quote presented to the homeowner. It will not be funded under RAP.

DVA will not pay for the cost of items, such as a spa bath or an additional toilet. If requested by the client, this should be clearly stated in the specification.

Toilet relocation

Toilets may be moved within the same room. DVA will not normally pay for a toilet to be relocated from outside or from opposite ends of the house. This would constitute the connection of a utility and is outside the scope of consideration of funding. In situations such as these, the provision of suitable aids or equipment, such as a commode should be considered.

In exceptional circumstances, toilet relocation may be provided at the discretion of the Assistant Secretary, Client Program Branch.

Bidet

Where a residence has multiple toilets, DVA will only install 1 bidet.  The bidet should be provided to the toilet with the simplest installation and that the client accesses the most.

If a bidet is clinically appropriate the client needs to be aware of the aesthetic and practical implications of installation i.e. RPZ valve and power point.

The contracted supplier will ensure the installation meets all relevant standards.

The contracted supplier will register the RPZ installation with the relevant authority and DVA will fund the annual inspection while the client resides at the property.

DVA does not fund the removal of bidets once they have been installed.

Normal household items

The client is responsible for normal household items (e.g. mirrors, soap holders, towel rails, fans, lights, heaters, hot water services, security doors and windows). These items should not be included in the specifications (scope of work). If the client wishes to self-fund these items, it should be clearly stated in the specifications and the OT should ensure the client is aware.

Connection/ upgrading of utilities

DVA does not generally finance the connection or upgrading of basic utilities (water, sewerage, electricity and gas).

If an existing utility should be changed or moved to enable an alteration to be functional, then DVA may accept responsibility (an example, the removal of a bathtub and the installation of a level entry shower in another part of the bathroom necessitating reconnection of the utility, the installation of new hand shower fittings etc).

If the utility requires upgrading to bring it up to current building standards such as the addition of a safety switch to an electrical power board, this is the responsibility of the home owner and not DVA. Work may not be able to proceed until the homeowner agrees to fund work to ensure the home is safe to accommodate the modification.

DVA will fund stove isolation switches in circumstances where there is a high level of safety risk such as dementia, cognitive and memory dysfunction.

Types of residences and  supporting documentation required

Consideration must be given to the type of residence prior to approving home modifications.

Owner-occupied residence

Purchase of the residence should have occurred prior to any knowledge of the disability and the client was not reasonably able to judge that access was likely to become an issue. The owner needs to complete the D1323 Authority to Install /Modify Form. If the modification extends onto common or shared space, the body corporate/owners corporation needs to provide approval in writing.

In strata titled properties, the body corporate/owners corporation will need to approve any modifications that extend onto common or shared space. This approval can be provided in a letter from the body corporate/owners corporation.

Private rental accommodation

DVA will consider the length of time the client has lived in the residence.  If less than five years, and/or the client has moved house on a regular basis, consideration should be given to either minor modifications, aids or moving to a more suitable residence.

The owner of the rental accommodation must be provided with the specifications and drawings of the scope of work to be done and a signed copy included in the request to DVA.  The owner or their agent is to complete the D1323 Authority to Install /Modify Form.

Retirement villages/Independent Living Units

Given that retirement villages and independent living units (cluster of self-care units) are normally purpose built to cater for the needs of older persons, it is reasonable to expect there would be no requirement for DVA to consider home modifications except in exceptional circumstances.

DVA may approve modifications if the client could not reasonably have foreseen, in light of their existing medical conditions, that such modifications would either be necessary on entering a particular residence, or become necessary in order for them to remain living in that residence. DVA may also consider funding modifications if the retirement village/independent living unit has provided evidence that it will not fund it.

This discretion enables DVA delegates, where there is some element of doubt, to take individual circumstances into account and make a considered decision.

In these circumstances, the retirement village/independent living unit operator would need to complete the D1323 Authority to Install /Modify Form or provide approval in writing.

Note: Paragraphs (a) and (b) of Principle 11.3.6 of the Treatment Principles made under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 and Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 provides that modifications will not be provided within an institution (a retirement village or cluster of self-care units) if the appliance should be supplied by the owner or operator of the institution because:

  • 11.3.6 (a) (iii) installing the appliance would involve an alteration to the structure of part of the institution; and
  • 11.3.6 (b) where the appliance is a hand rail, ramp, non-slip surface or similar, the client should have known, by reason of the client’s state of health or frailty at the time the person arranged to enter the institution, that such an appliance would have been likely to have been needed by the client upon being admitted to the institution or a short time (within 6 months) thereafter.

Lifestyle villages

Often known as ‘resort style’ living and are principally targeted at active people over 50 years old with less emphasis on provision of aged care services such as personal response system (PRS) and emergency medical treatment.

If the lifestyle village markets itself as not providing any form of aged care support – PRS, personal care/nursing assistance, mobility and functional support equipment etc. – then consideration may be given to the installation of support equipment or home modifications.  Agreement in writing by the village operator is necessary.

Where accommodation is owner-occupied, the owner should complete the D1323 Authority to Install /Modify Form  or if applicable the lifestyle village operator is to complete the form or provide approval in writing.

DVA delegates should confirm that the lifestyle village is not a retirement village.

Parks

Residence in a Park may comprise:

  • privately owned, prefabricated, relocatable homes located on leased land within a park complex, similar to a caravan park but without short-stay (less than three months) arrangements; or
  • leased, prefabricated, relocatable homes located on leased land within a park complex, similar to a caravan park but without short-stay (less than three months) arrangements.

If the park is not restricted to retired persons and offers no aged care service then it may fall outside the scope of the relevant State/Territory retirement villages’ legislation.  In this case, DVA is likely to treat the dwelling as an owner-occupied residence (see Owner-occupied residence). 

Rental park dwellings are privately owned rentals located on leased ground.  DVA would only consider home modifications for long-term residents who are assessed as likely to remain in the rental park dwelling for at least five years. (see Private Rental Accommodation).

Where accommodation is owner-occupied, the owner should complete the D1323 Authority to Install /Modify Form  or if applicable the park operator is to complete the relevant section or provide approval in writing.

State-owned housing

The Department does not provide home modifications to Government-owned homes.  The responsible State/Territory housing agency will modify residences or organise alternative accommodation, in accordance with their own procedures.

Liability for the standard of workmanship The Department does accept liability for the standard of workmanship. If a client or OT have any concerns about the workmanship they need to advise the DVA contracted supplier first. If they continue to have issues then they need to contact DVA. DVA will address the concerns with the contracted provider.

Finance options for work not covered by DVA

Defence Service Home Loans

Defence Service Home (DSH) loans may be available to eligible clients to pay for the cost of any additional work which is carried out at the same time as the authorised home modifications.

Clients should check their eligibility before agreeing to pay for the cost of any additional work. Further information is available from the DSH National Processing Centre, freecall 1800 722 000.

Home Support Loans

Home Support Loans (HSLs) are a possible source of funds for clients to pay for the cost of any additional work.

Clients advised of this option should check their eligibility before agreeing to pay for the cost of any additional work. Further information is available from the DSH National Processing Centre, freecall 1800 722 000.

Pension lump sum advances

A possible additional source of funds for additional home modifications is a pension lump-sum advance. Recipients of DVA pensions and income support supplement may be eligible for one such advance per year from the Department.
Australian Standards and legislative requirements

Where appropriate, all modifications should meet Australian, state/territory and local government building requirements and standards.

Standards Australia
Health Provider Hotline

1800 550 457

Health Providers can contact DVA for any enquiries by calling the Provider Hotline: (Please press Option 1 when prompted for RAP).

 

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