Home modifications process
Find out how we can support you at home if you have a serious motor accident or serious illness or injury at work.
If you're a Lifetime Care participant or worker in the Workers Care Program, we can pay for:
- home modifications to allow you to easily enter, exit and move around your home independently and safely
- home automation systems to help you control home functions and features if you have difficulties with mobility and upper limb function
- vehicle modifications to help you get back to full participation in your life and community. We will work with you to determine your home and vehicle modification needs.
Your home modification needs will typically be assessed when you are in hospital, and then reviewed on an ongoing basis as your needs and circumstances change. Vehicle modifications will usually be assessed once you have been cleared for a driving assessment or if you have difficulty travelling in a vehicle as a passenger.
For both home and vehicle modifications an occupational therapist will also work in consultation with you to identify the modifications best suited to your circumstances.
How it works
We've developed a 4-part video series to help you navigate the home modification process.
You'll learn more about types of modifications available, relocating or rebuilding and information about how we will continue to support you as your needs or circumstances change over time.
Types of modifications
For participants in Lifetime Care and the Workers Care Program
Home modifications are intended to improve accessibility and enable a greater ability to participate in your home and community.
We can pay for changes to the structure, layout or fittings in your home that you need because of your injuries.
This may include modifications to the entry of your home, such as access ramps or widened doorways, internal changes to the size and layout of the bathroom, bedroom and kitchen, installing equipment or erecting new structures such as a carport.
Specific requirements will be identified by your home modifications team and occupational therapist.
For attendant care workers
The modifications may or may not include space for support workers, such as space for a bed for the support worker if you need overnight care. Your team will work with you to identify any additional support worker needs.
Minor home modifications
A home modification is considered minor if it costs less than $30,000.
Minor modifications don’t usually require structural changes or council approval. They can include rails, ramps and other minor changes like removing a shower hob.
If you need minor home modifications, talk to your icare contact or case manager and they can help you find an occupational therapist. The occupational therapist will meet with you, assess your home and make recommendations for home modifications in consultation with you and your family.
Once you agree with the recommendations, the occupational therapist will submit a request to us with quotes.
Major home modifications
Major home modifications are modifications that cost more than $30,000. They usually involve structural changes to both the inside and the outside of your home and may require council approval.
Your need for home modifications may be identified when you are still in hospital after your injury. Here's how the process works:
- Your icare contact and a home modifications officer will meet with you, your family and your treating team to identify what kind of modifications you may need. They’ll also explain how icare can assist and what we can pay for.
- If it seems like your home needs major home modifications, a team of specialists will then meet with you and your family and complete an assessment of your home. Your team consists of a building modifications occupational therapist and building modifications project manager who are selected from an icare panel, as well as an icare home modifications officer.
- The occupational therapist will assess your needs for home modifications and recommend specific types of modifications for you and your family to consider.
- Once you agree with the recommendations, the occupational therapist will complete a report and the project manager will develop a scope of works with estimated costings. These are sent to icare to make a decision.
- When the recommendations are approved, the project manager will organise quotes from builders to complete the modifications which will be sent to us for final approval. All home modifications must be approved by us before commencing.
- Our home modifications officer will meet with you, your family and the project manager and builder during the build to ensure the work is progressing to standard.When the modifications are complete, an occupational therapist will meet with you, your family and the project manager to check the work has been completed as expected, and that the changes will meet your needs.
Making major changes to your home is a big decision that you or your family may not feel ready to undertake in the early stages following an injury.
Transitional modifications are the essential modifications that are needed so you can return to your home.
They are modifications which can be completed reasonably quickly. They will often (but not always) include:
- access into your home
- access to a bathroom and toilet (sometimes this may involve use of a portable bathroom/toilet facility)
- access to the living area of your home.
Transitional modifications are based on your needs, and on the recommendations of the building modifications occupational therapist. They can enable you to live in your home while you decide on the rest of the modifications to be completed at a later date, or while the modifications are being completed.
Alternatives to home modifications
There are some scenarios when major home modifications may not be possible, or they may not be considered reasonable for your circumstances.
The size, age, condition and design of your home may mean that it can’t be suitably modified. The terrain outside your home may also mean it can’t be modified. If your home can’t be suitably modified, we’ll consider alternatives such as:
- contributing to the cost of installing a semi-detached unit
- contributing to the cost of moving you to a more suitable home
- contributing to the cost of building a new home.
We also may not be able to complete modifications on rental properties. This can depend on the length of your lease and whether the property owner agrees to the modifications.
If it’s not considered reasonable to modify your home, we’ll work closely with you to find the best alternative. We can support you in finding somewhere else to live, and cover certain costs involved in selling your home and buying a new home.
In addition to that, we’ll also consider paying for home modifications to your new home.
What is home automation?
Home automation is the use of one or more devices to control home functions and features through an application (app) and/or a voice-controlled hands-free device.
If you have an injury that’s impacted your mobility and upper limb function, you may have difficulty accessing your home and controlling devices in your home environment. For example, you may have difficulty using standard remote controls, operating light switches or opening and closing doors.
A home automation system is one solution that could enable you to regain control of your home environment. Examples of functions that can be automated include:
- switching lights on and off
- controlling power points
- temperature control through air conditioning
- opening and closing blinds
- controlling a television and home entertainment/audio-visual systems (TV/AV)
- opening and closing doors, including the use of a video intercom
- controlling electric/adjustable bed functions.
Eligibility for home automation
If you have difficulties with mobility and upper limb function because of your injury, you may be eligible for home automation.
We consider the following circumstances when reviewing your needs and any request for home automation:
- your functional abilities, such as mobility; amount of upper limb and hand function; and your ability to understand and use an integrated home automation system
- your care needs and the type and amount of approved attendant care supports you have
- whether a home automation system will promote your independence in day-to-day tasks
- what home modifications you have in place or that are being planned
- other considerations about your personal circumstances such as your goals, life roles, family environment, and any safety risks.
How it works
Your needs for home automation will usually be identified as part of your assessment for home modifications.
The building modifications occupational therapist, or specialist occupational therapist with skills in home automation will meet with you, assess your home and make recommendations on what home automation is required in consultation with you and your family and the home modifications team.
Once we've decided on what home automation we can pay for, the building modifications occupational therapist or specialist home automation occupational therapist will work with you, a home automation supplier and the home modifications team to make sure that home automation is coordinated with your home modifications.
If you’ve already had your home modified, or your needs have changed, talk to your Case Manager or icare contact and they can arrange for a review of your home automation needs with a specialist occupational therapist.
Eligibility for vehicle modifications
We can pay for vehicle modifications if you have difficulty driving or being transported in a vehicle because of your injury. To be eligible for vehicle modifications, you need to:
- have a physical, sensory and/or cognitive disability as a result of your motor accident or workplace injury that prevents you from safely driving, accessing or travelling as a passenger in an unmodified vehicle
- require modifications to a vehicle in order to get in and out, drive, be transported safely or to transport a wheelchair
- own or have access to a motor vehicle on a regular basis or you are planning to buy a vehicle to be modified
- have a medical certificate which gives you medical clearance to return to driving and which supports the modification of your vehicle being required because of your injury
- have been assessed by a driver trained occupational therapist certified by the State’s Driver Licensing Authority, the Roads and Maritime Services NSW (RMS)
- have a current and valid driver’s license and be legally able to drive.
We will need to assess the costs of vehicle modifications and may require reports and quotes from mechanics, suppliers of parts and equipment and other service providers regarding the modifications.
How it works
If you need vehicle modifications, talk to your icare coordinator or case manager.
You’ll need to have an assessment with a specialist driver trained occupational therapist and obtain a certificate from a medical practitioner confirming that you are medically cleared to return to driving.
If you don’t have a car, the occupational therapist can advise you on suitable vehicles types and models, and may be able to help you work out what’s best for your circumstances. If you do have a car, we can only pay for modifications if the car is considered reliable and roadworthy.
The occupational therapist will discuss options with you and arrange trials to work out the simplest and most cost-effective option to meet your needs.
Once the most appropriate modifications are determined, the occupational therapist will write a report and make recommendations regarding what modifications should be made to your vehicle. They’ll also recommend whether driving lessons would be appropriate. The cost of your driving lessons can also be covered by us.
We’ll then decide whether the requested modifications meet our criteria for funding.
What we can pay for
Vehicle modifications we can pay for include:
- adapted controls to assist with steering assistance, acceleration and braking
- hoists and ramps to enable wheelchair access
- automatic transmission to change gears
- changes to parking brakes, rear vision mirrors, seat belts or indicators.
If we've funded vehicle modifications, we may also pay for the cost of getting a blue slip, and any additional insurance costs directly related to the modification of your vehicle.We’ll also pay for the maintenance, repair and replacement of approved modifications to your vehicle. If you buy a new car, we can pay for the modifications to be transferred to your new car or pay to have your new car modified.
We can pay for vehicle modifications once every eight years, unless your needs change to the extent that you can’t use your modified vehicle anymore.
What we do not pay for
You’re responsible for general maintenance and all running costs of the vehicle, including registration, insurance and fuel.
You’re also responsible for making sure the vehicle complies with safety and road-worthiness standards.
We can’t pay for:
- modifications that don’t comply with the Australian Standards, Australian design rules or current Assessing Fitness to Drive national medical standards
- modifications to a motor vehicle for a need/condition that you had prior to the motor vehicle or workplace injury
- modifications that have no clear or sustained benefit to you
- costs to convert the vehicle back to its standard configuration once major modifications have been paid by us
- modifications completed outside of Australia
- repairs covered by supplier’s warranty, including vehicle modifier warranty or vehicle’s insurance policy
- cancellation fees for non-attendance at driving lessons as part of the driving program.
For driver modifications, we also can’t pay for:
- vehicle modifications if you are not medically cleared to drive and licensed to drive with an endorsed license
- vehicle modifications if you have been assessed as unsafe to drive.