A good home modification is all about understanding the client as a whole person not just their physical requirements, according to Pamela Reeves, senior occupational therapist specialising in home modification.
Pamela is from Everyday Independence statewide specialist therapy service, which has teamed with Architecture & Access project managers to complete a number of major home modifications throughout Victoria.
Their latest project typifies the challenges and ultimate satisfaction of undertaking a major home modification with respect to client sensitivities, physical needs, structural limitations imposed by the existing home, and budget constraints.
“This project involved major modification including bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, level entries, garage entries, change of floor covering, the lot,” says Pamela.
“The clients initially struggled a great deal to accept the extent of the changes required, which made it difficult to finalise plans and move ahead.”
David Brown, Architecture & Access project manager responded to the clients anxiety about losing the recognisable qualities of their lifelong home by sitting down with them and talking about their ideas and wishes.
“We have over 12 years experience managing home modifications and we understand that people are dealing with major life changes,” says David. “Our in-house capacity includes project managers, access consultants, architects, landscape and interior designers, which means we can be highly responsive to individual needs.”
The structure of the house placed limitations on the initial concept, but once these were overcome by the final design solution, the project began to take shape.
“My role is to identify barriers to independence and provide specific data and guidance for modification,” says Pamela. “I can say this person needs this much space here and here, and bench tops and sink must be a certain height – but I don’t understand how to achieve that space within the existing structure.”
“That’s where we come in,” says David, “We input all the OT’s data and recommendations into the proposed designs. We also consult closely with the client, family and carers because it is important to us that the home modification considers individual needs and priorities.”
The project manager handles the entire process through to construction including design documentation, planning permits, building process and compliance, and the completion of a high quality product on time and within budget.
“In my experience, to do the job well with functional outcomes for the client and a home they are happy to live in, you need a good team that is willing to keep the needs and preferences of the client at the centre of the process,” says Pamela.
Pamela believes that the outcome of a home modification should be as much an expression of the culture, beliefs and lifestyle of the client and family as it is a response to their need for independence and safety within the home.
“Our current clients are about to view the final stage of their home modification. I think they will be happy.”