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Ramps and rails

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Ramps and rails can be useful when someone, such as an older person or someone with a disability, needs help getting around or staying steady on their feet.

Making home modifications to add ramps or rails, improving accessibility and safety, can help people to remain living independently in their own home.

Deciding what you need

When deciding about installing ramps or rails in a home, there are some important things to consider. They include:

  • Suitability – Which products will best suit your needs? For example, if the person you care for needs more stability when washing, you might need grab rails outside and inside the shower.
  • Impact – How will a product affect the living environment? How will it look? Is there enough space? Will any maintenance be needed?
  • Who will do the job – Is it a DIY (do-it-yourself) job, or is a professional needed?
  • Assistance – Do you want to request assistance through a government scheme or local service provider?
  • Cost – What will you need to pay, and what subsidies might you be entitled to?

Types of ramps and rails

Ramps improve access to and from the entrance of a building, as well as other places on a property, by providing an inclined surface on a continuous path. The main types of ramps available are fixed ramps, portable ramps, and threshold ramps (such as those used in doorways). Find out more about rampsOpens in a new window here.

Rails can be installed in any room and can help in a range of situations when extra stability is needed, such as when getting in and out of the shower or bath, while washing, or getting on and off the toilet. The main types of rail include grab rails on walls, hand rails beside stairs, and support rails for the toilet. Find out more about railsOpens in a new window here.

You can get help choosing the best products for your situation from the Independent Living Centres Advisory ServiceOpens in a new window on 1300 885 886.

Relevant schemes and subsidies

Before you do anything about installing ramps or rails, however, it’s a good idea to check whether you or the person in your care is eligible for government support for home modifications. You may be able to get support through a scheme such as the:

You may also be able to get assistance through schemes run by your state or territory government. For more information, see the Home ModificationsOpens in a new window page.

If you get support through a scheme, the situation must usually be assessed by an occupational therapist first. Then your local service provider will organise a quote from a professional to do the job.

Be aware that even if you go through a scheme, there may still be a fee to pay. Make sure you are clear about the total cost before you go ahead.

Getting help from a local provider

There are service providers in each state and territory that help people with home modifications such as ramps and rails. They include a wide range of professionals, from occupational therapists through to trades people.

Do it yourself or use a professional?

Generally speaking, it’s best to use the services of a home modification provider when making changes to a home. They have the experience and expertise needed to make sure any modifications made are right for your situation and comply with the relevant Australian standards and regulations.

Find out more about building codes and requirementsOpens in a new window here.

If you decide to independently organise a contractor to do the job, make sure they are licensed to do the work, and that you are clear about what is being done and the cost.  If you need help with this, contact your state or territory consumer protection agencyOpens in a new window.

If you want to make a very simple modification, such as installing a grab rail, you may decide to do it yourself (DIY). Useful DIY factsheets are available from the Home Modification Information ClearinghouseOpens in a new window, including factsheets on grab rails and hand rails.


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