The Home Modification Information Clearinghouse (HMinfo) is a national service that informs and guides developments in Home Modification Services. HMinfo reviews existing research and undertakes their own research, to build the evidence base for effective home modification. Research is translated into formats to provide Home Modification researchers and service providers, as well as older people, people with disability, and their carers, with the information they need for better home design and building practice.
The need for evidence
Effective Home Modifications have been shown to have the capacity to improve wellbeing and reduce the need for waged care services for people with disability. However, Home Modifications that do not meet the functional needs of the resident, do not comply with best building practices, are difficult to implement and maintain, or are not cost effective, can do more harm than good.
Issues with home modifications are complex and varied.
- The Home Modification skill base varies among service providers, including occupational therapists, builders and architects. Inexperience and lack of suitable information and resources can lead to poor work standards and inefficiency.
- The numerous design guidelines available can be contradictory, internally inconsistent and incomplete, which limits the ability of Home Modification providers to ensure consistency and achievement of the best outcomes from Home Modifications.
- The decisions about home modification services depend on the skill of individual service providers in assessing the resident's functioning and care requirements, alongside their household and home environment. Inexperience and lack of suitable information and resources can lead to inappropriate home modification specification, especially if the resident has multiple disabilities, general frailty and mental impairments.
- Though most older people prefer living 'at home' as they age, most existing housing stock (despite newer housing approaches such as 'Adaptable Housing' and 'Livable Housing') is still not suitable for people with disability. People wanting to make their home safer and more suitable for their future needs as they age, need access to information and resources to undertake DIY Home Modifications at the time of their choosing.
- Unsatisfactory Home Modifications can result in injury to residents, carers or care service workers, leading to service providers being faced with litigation.
HMinfo provides Home Modification service providers, and the increasing numbers of residents undertaking 'DIY Home Modifications' (either through the NDIS or self-funded), with unbiased, evidence based information and resources, to guide the specification, design and construction of their Home Modifications.
Some of the critical Home Modification topics that HMinfo has undertaken research into in recent years, include the impact of home modifications on the provision of wages care, the impact of home modification for carers of people with disability, and the information requirements for DIY Home Modifications. The full range research publications produced by HMinfo is available in HMinfo Research Publications.
HMinfo produce their own academically rigorous research based documents on Home Modification policy and practice. The range of research publication types reflect the approach and research method used, and the audience for the publication.
HMinfo Evidence Based Practice Reviews investigate the existing research evidence for the effectiveness of particular home modification design and building practices, using a systematic review methodology.
HMinfo Consumer Factsheets translate research evidence for home modification design and building practices into concise information for consumers.
HMinfo Industry Factsheets and Checklists translate research evidence for home modification design and building practices into information that will assist home modification prescribers and practitioners.
HMinfo Occasional Research Papers are individually commissioned research papers on existing or emerging issues in home design and home modifications for older people, for people with disability, or for carers.
HMinfo Summary Bulletins provide a concise overview of the important issues relating to a particular home modification topic.
Prior to publication, HMinfo research documents are reviewed by Specialist Review Panels, comprising academic peer reviewers; expert practitioners in the fields of design, architecture, building, and occupational therapy; and consumer representatives for older people, people with disability, and carers.
This Specialist Review process functions as an academic peer review of HMinfo research documents by researchers in the same field. However, the Specialist Review process adds industry expertise and experiences of people with disability, to ensure our industry and consumer focused publications are relevant and practical for their intended audience.
Other Sources of Evidence
In addition to undertaking their own research projects and publishing the resulting research publications on the HMinfo website, HMinfo builds the Home Modification evidence base by:
- publishing others’ relevant Home Modification research and technical documents, in Research by Others;
- reviewing relevant national and international research, and providing a comprehensive list of relevant literature in the Research Library;
- providing a means for experienced home modification professionals and Occupational Therapists to share their knowledge and advice on established and proven Home Modification practice, through the Forums;
- producing drawings and models of actual mobility devices, in the Enabling Blocks Library; and
- collecting and providing case studies of home modifications, in the Case Study Library.
The complete collection of Home Modification resources provided by HMinfo is available in Resources.