Home modifications mean more independence for Michelle
This article was first published in The West Australian’s International Day of People with Disability lift-out in December 2019 and has been reproduced with permission.
Spacious and accessible living areas appeal to nearly everyone, disability or not.
For Michelle, who lives with a condition called Myelomalacia, altering the layout of her bedroom and bathroom has allowed her to achieve more independence at home.
Michelle and her mother Kathy worked together with the specialist home modifications team at Therapy Focus to make their home safer and more accessible.
Therapy Focus Occupational Therapist Carmel McDougall said the limited space in Michelle’s previous bathroom made it difficult for her to move around and occasionally caused her to fall.
“In Michelle’s newly modified bathroom she now has level access to a large shower, which allows her the room to comfortably and safely have a shower,” she said.
“An accessible toilet was installed and Michelle has the option to sit or stand at her basin for her personal care.
Pleased with the completed home modification, Kathy said the decision to adapt the existing bathroom made things much more convenient for her daughter.
“Michelle is very happy with the new bathroom; she uses it all of the time. She even washed her hair herself the other night.”
Ms McDougall works collaboratively with Michelle to help her live life to the fullest by providing equipment, assistive technology, changes to daily tasks and activities, and strategies to enable her to try new things.
“Michelle has developed her independence in dressing, including taking on and off her customised foot and knee orthoses, and her ability to safely move throughout her home,” she said.
“We plan to work together to help make mealtimes and using cutlery easier, as Michelle’s diagnosis means she is losing sensation and coordination of her hands. Her wider therapy team will also be supporting her with strategies that ensure safe swallowing and adequate nutrition in her diet.”
Ms McDougall said home modifications was an important factor to consider as it can significantly support people living with disability.
“For some people, a home modification is the difference between staying at home and moving into alternative accommodation.”
“For children with disabilities, home modifications can help eliminate or reduce the help and physical support their parents need to provide – ideally helping prevent injury to the child and parents, and to allow them to do the same activities as everyone else.
“There is a spectrum of changes that can occur as part of home modifications, it could be a simple as installing a grab rail, or as technical as using automation and emerging technologies so that people can control their lights, air-conditioning, appliances, opening of their doors, and electronics using remotes or an app on their phone.”