If a bath is too high for an older person to safely step into, then that bath may pose a risk and be of little value. If a house entry has just a few steps this will quickly stop a person with small children and a pram. It’s more than likely they won’t use this entrance again. A person who uses a wheelchair will find it nigh impossible to use a standard toilet, which makes that amenity redundant. A person with a lower back issues can find steps daunting so upstairs bedrooms may not be used anymore. A person with sight impairment might struggle to distinguish a door and architraves in the same colour as the wall.
A third of Australian homes have a person that has difficulty in our built environment, so the Livable Housing Australia initiatives will go some way towards meeting these needs. These also support the Ageing in Place program for older Australians.
Australia certainly has the skills and knowledge and resources to make homes that are suitable for all people. According to the October 2018 Credit-Suisse Global wealth Report, Australia has overtaken Switzerland and has become the country with the largest median wealth per adult. It is often said that a country should be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable so for people with profound disabilities it is heartening to know that the National Disability Insurance Scheme has been supported by all creeds of government.
Persons with specific disabilities are assessed as requiring personal levels of care, and in the built environment this can mean specific modifications to their places of residence. This is to make their accommodation easier to live in, to give more independence, and more integrity to their lives. Who is to say what is considered normal living, so this should not be considered an extra cost, rather this is the cost for all people to have a productive and fulfilling life. If we can achieve this then we might be beginning to live up to the wealth that we all enjoy.
The NDIS is planned to be actioned in the Sunshine Coast region starting in 2019.