A world-first app has been launched to support older people and people with disabilities, including renters and strata occupiers, to make simple, inexpensive modifications to their homes.
The decision support app aims to help people to identify where a home modification could help and what choices are available to them to improve their safety and independence to age in place.
The DIYmodify app has been designed and tested by UNSW researchers in partnership with older people and people with disability and was funded by the NSW Department of Family and Community Services.
The free app provides information on common minor home modifications such as grab rails, hand-held showers, shower infills and small ramps.
UNSW research has revealed the scale of the DIY phenomenon with an estimated 15,000 DIY home modifications taking place each year in the state.
Associate Professor Catherine Bridge, director of the Home Modifications Information Clearinghouse, said her research has shown that a substantial number of people are choosing to do their own home modifications rather than using a government-funded service because of the greater control it gives them.
Her study participants reported a generally positive experience from doing their own home modifications but identified a lack of product information and issues in communicating their needs to tradespeople as barriers, which prompted the app’s development.
As part of the beta testing phase, nearly 600 people were invited to trial and give feedback on the app, Dr Bridge told Community Care Review.
In particular, Dr Bridge said the app aims to help renters and strata occupiers – the two most disadvantaged groups when it comes to modifying their homes – by recommending modifications that can be easily removed when a person leaves a residence.
Dr Bridge said as part of the decision support system, older people are encouraged to consider if a DIY approach is right for them and links are provided to home modification service providers when considering installation.
DIYmodify was launched on Friday by the NSW Minister for Disability Services Ray Williams, who said the app was an important information tool for consumers.
“I’m proud our government is supporting initiatives that allow people with disability to customise their homes exactly how they want them. It replicates the goals of the NDIS, empowering people with disability to live life their way,” he said.
The app has been designed to be accessible for people with cognitive, physical and vision impairment and is available for use on both iPhone and Android devices.
For more information and to download the app, click here.