Message from the CEO

Welcome to MOD.A's August newsletter. This has been another busy month for us and the sector. On behalf of MOD.A I was fortunate enough to have attended the Australian Assistive Technology Conference in the Gold Coast, the NDIS Housing Symposium in Brisbane and the meeting of the National Aged Care Alliance in Canberra.

As we make the transition from winter to spring our industry remains unclear about how home modifications is to operate consistently across Australia in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and what the aged care reforms in 2018 are going to look like. The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has experienced some difficulties in rolling out its next phase since 1 July this year and the problems with its new portal have been well publicised. Government initiated centralised IT solutions have been much in the spotlight, with the spectacular failure of the online Census. MOD.A members continue to report to us the difficulties that they and clients experience when trying to organise home modifications through the My Aged Care (MAC) system and RAS providers are experiencing issues with generating activity reports. MOD.A is hopeful that these are just teething issues at the front end of significant and progressive reforms. We continue to engage regularly and constructively with the Department of Health about problems members experience with MAC and DEX and to keep the door open to discuss disability reforms with the NDIA.

This edition provides an overview of the results from our Membership Survey, which has already informed the discussions of the MOD.A Board about our strategic priorities for 2016-2017. With a strong focus on building partnership we will be looking to increase the number of events we put on for members, while at the same time developing our quality standard and continuing to work with governments, both directly and through alliances with other stakeholders, to ensure home modifications are well addressed in the reform processes.

Michael Bleasdale, CEO

Aged Care Updates

National Aged Care Alliance (NACA) Update

The National Aged Care Alliance meets quarterly and the third meeting for 2016 was held in Canberra on 4 and 5 August. This meeting, attended by MOD.A CEO Michael Bleasdale, included a presentation from the Australian Law Reform Commission about its inquiry into Elder Abuse; an update on the progress of aged care reform from the senior officers of the Department of Health; and a talk from the re-appointed Assistant Minister for Health and Ageing, the Hon Ken Wyatt. This was the Assistant Minister's first NACA meeting (the Minister for Health and Ageing, the Hon Sussan Ley, had attended previously). He spoke about his commitment to continue to improve the aged care sector, for it to be innovative to meet the challenges of the rapidly ageing population, and for it to be primarily delivered in the homes of older people rather than in residential care. "People want to stay in their own homes living as independently as possible," was his observation. The Assistant Minister affirmed his commitment to engagement with NACA, and indicated that he would be the primary Government contact for aged care matters in the new Parliament.  He acknowledged that the scope of aged care required him to interface with a range of other Government portfolios, and that he would be doing this in collaboration with the sector.

The Assistant Minister fielded questions about the terms of reference and scope of the review of the aged care legislation which has to be initiated in 2016. NACA, in its 2016 election platform, requested that the Roadmap and Blueprint be recognised in the review as benchmarks for evaluation, and there is hope that the terms of reference, just about to finalised, may reflect these.

Long Term Case Management Forum

Members will be aware that many case management services were cut from aged care as a precursor to the change from HACC to CHSP. The need for ongoing case management and service coordination for clients with complex requirements has been raised regularly in forums and networks of providers, and this Forum was organised by the Department of Health to bring together sector experts to workshop a range of issues. CEO Michael Bleasdale attended for MOD.A, as did Board Director Jan Herbert, who was there representing National Seniors.

The day was independently facilitated and enabled a good deal of discussion by those present about what they perceived to be the shortcomings of the current system where case management had been removed. There was a good deal of focus throughout the day on the need for long-term case management for people with complex needs - not just linking them to and coordinating services but also focusing on the wellbeing of the client. This was particularly the case with vulnerable clients, for whom it may take a considerable amount of time to establish trust and rapport.

The Department indicated that this was an information-gathering event that would feed into the deliberations they are conducting internally to look at the best way to deliver case management to those who require it.

MAC and DEX Updates

We have continued to receive a steady stream of feedback from members regarding ongoing issues with access to and functionality of both the MAC and DEX. It is very evident that problems about coordinating OT assessments with referrals to home modifications providers are very common, and we have been able, thanks to the contributions of members, to bring specific examples to the attention of the Department of Health. The promise from the Department is to track these examples and try to understand why they are not progressing through the MAC system as expected, and MOD.A will be feeding any system fixes back to the sector as soon as these come into effect.

Members are reminded that all data for the first reporting period were due midnight on Friday 19 August. This timeframe was extended from 30 July due to technical issues with the Data Exchange System. If you have not yet submitted your data or had issues with accessing the DEX system you need to report directly to: or phone 1800 020 283 between 8.30 am 5.30 pm Monday to Friday.

Data Exchange webinar questions and answers from the 20 June 2016 Data Exchange Refresher Webinar are now available on the Departments website. A useful FAQ resource for anyone still orientating themselves to the DEX and how to use it.

REMINDER: If you have a problem with either the MAC or DEX we are happy to receive your feedback to forward to the Department as a case study highlighting a particular issue. The best feedback is a detailed overview of what the issue is and, most importantly, how or why it affects your organisation's ability to effectively provide home modifications to clients. Send examples directly to us at

CEO Michael Bleasdale and Director Janice Herbert at the Long Term Case Management Forum

Submission to Productivity Commission

The Productivity Commission has commenced a broad inquiry into how the principles of competition, contestability and user-led service delivery can be appropriately and best introduced into human services, and which parts of the human services sector are most compatible with these principles. MOD.A has provided an initial submission to the inquiry available now from our website.

NDIS Housing Symposium

The eighth Griffith University NDIS Symposium on 8 August 2016 brought together people with disability, their families, researchers and professionals to ask some challenging questions about the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the provision of housing. It was attended by our CEO, Michael Bleasdale and board member Margaret Ward.

People with disability said they wanted housing that is well-designed, secure, affordable, and well located. They wanted to choose where and who they live with, and they wanted a housing system that includes them. The Queensland Minister for Housing confirmed his support for access features in all new housing, while the spokesperson for the private housing industry expressed the usual concerns about cost and demand. The most popular speaker was Michael Lennon from Housing Choices Australia who challenged the Queensland housing sector to provide more opportunities for people with disability to rent or buy their own home.

Joint Standing Committee Report on NDIS Roundtable on Housing

Toward the end of 2015 MOD.A was invited to take part in a roundtable discussion on Housing and the NDIS, hosted by the Senate's Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The problem of how participants were going to be able to access the housing of their choice was discussed, particularly given the lack of supply of suitably accessible and affordable housing. A number of representatives from peak bodies, services, and research, consumer and carer groups were present and the proceedings were recorded in Hansard. Following the Roundtable the Committee called for submissions and MOD.A and the Home Modification Information Clearinghouse provided one at the beginning of March (availble from our website).

The Committee has now released its report drawing on the October consultation and the submissions it received. It has made a number of recommendations about how best to address the housing problem (which are broadly in line with the approach supported by MOD.A and HMinfo), in particular its acknowledgement of the need for new housing to be built to a higher standard of accessibility than in the past. Its first recommendation is to examine the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and update it with regard to accessibility. This is in line with our recommendation to uphold the agreement to make all new housing comply with universal housing design standards by 2020, although this target, which also informs the housing goals of the National Disability Strategy, is not mentioned explicitly in the Committee's report.

The report stops short of following MOD.A's and HMinfo's recommendation to focus on existing housing stock. Despite the acknowledgement that what is required is "rethinking the conversation about housing" the Committee has only endorsed strategies that seek to remedy the lack of accessibility in new build housing. Unfortunately, there is nothing in the report that directly addresses our call for strategies " to renovate and modify existing housing to complement the increased supply of affordable and accessible new housing."

MOD.A and HMinfo will endeavour to inform policy makers about how best to reform the BCA so that there are no unintended consequences to the provision of home modifications, such as the recent upgrading of slip resistance of ramps. And we will continue to lobby government directly to raise the profile of housing and its importance to the success of disability services and aged care reforms.

Community Care Review Features Home Modifications

The August 2016 edition of the Australian Ageing Agenda's Community Care Review publication features a multi-page spread on home modifications. Feature articles by Liz Ainsworth on the benefits of home modifications for older people and people with a disability and Dr Courtenay Harris, Hilary O'Connell and Kelly McAuliffe's detailed overview of positive outcomes demonstrated by the (WA) HACC Home Modifications and Assistive Technology project is supported by other content highlighting useful resources and barriers faced by private renters.

Although MOD.A did not have an opportunity to contribute to the content in this edition members will note the prominent advertisement we placed on page 21 promoting home modification service providers.

Results of our Member Survey 2016

The membership survey was conducted in June 2016. Members were asked to answer 49 questions on a range of topics to gauge satisfaction with MOD.A's performance to date and asked what members wanted to see us do more of and better in the future. We were very pleased with the response rate of 47% (n=33) that was higher than the benchmark for peak organisation member surveys. The majority of respondents were full members (94%) and most were funded home modifications providers (75.76%) or private OTs (12.12%).

Overall, respondents felt that advocacy and representation was either extremely important (68%) or very important (29%) to the work of MOD.A. The vast majority of respondents were satisfied with MOD.A's advocacy and representation efforts over the past 12 months (97%).  Suggestions for improvement in this regard included: more member consultation; media campaigns and state-based advocacy.

The majority of respondents felt that lobbying government and other stakeholders was important work for MOD.A (100%), with the majority satisfied with our efforts in the past twelve months (90%). Suggestions for improvement included: data collection (case studies) to promote cost effectiveness of home modifications and more intense lobbying efforts (particularly with the NDIA and MAC).

Generally, respondents agreed that it is important that MOD.A market and promote home modifications to the general community (100%), but 28.6% were not/not at all satisfied with MOD.A's efforts in the past twelve months. Suggestions for improvement included: more advertising; media releases; and appointment of (an) ambassador(s). The survey also identified the following specific information respondents would like MOD.A to provide for consumers: factsheets; standard brochure explaining home modifications; and face-to-face community information sessions.

Respondents also felt that it was important that MOD.A market service providers to the community (95%), however, 26% were not satisfied with our efforts in the previous twelve months. Suggestions for improvement included: greater advertising/promotion of providers (see previous news item) and the provision of brochures and factsheet resources.

With regard to education and training for managers the survey identified the following priorities: quality assurance; marketing and promotion; consumer-directed care; unit-cost averaging and business plan development.

With regard to education and training for OTs the survey identified the following priorities: standards (disability and BCA); assistive technology; and working with RAS officers. The following options for OT training received high positive responses: complex modifications; legislative requirements (NCC, BCA, council ordinances etc); access (ramps and rails); and assistive technology/environmental design.

With regard to education and training for builders/other trade professionals the survey identified the following priorities: building codes/requirements; new products; and communicating with OTs and clients. The following options for builders/other trade professionals received high positive response rates: regulations/building codes; communicating with OTs and clients; and product demonstrations.

In terms of our communications the MOD.A newsletter was rated highly against quality of content, layout and ease of reading, although some respondents thought more photographs and more visual appeal in general is needed. Email alerts and the new website were also rated very highly against quality of content, layout and ease of reading. Respondents did indicate that website content should be expanded to include more information sheets, OT pro-formas and resources. Not surprisingly, email communication is more important to our members than social media engagement (Facebook and Twitter) and the survey identified a high desire among membership for more face to face meetings. It should be noted, however, that MOD.A's social media platforms are targeted toward engagement with the general community/end consumer than to members.

The vast majority of respondents thought that OT assessment for home modifications would benefit from a competency framework (73.91%) and 100% of respondents thought that a quality assurance system or mechanism is important and more than 80% indicated they would seek certification against such a system.

We would like to once again thank all those members that completed our survey. Your feedback is invaluable to us and will both guide and inform our strategic priorities and specific activities over the next twelve months.

OT Program Update

We have established a working group to review and modify Information Sheets to benefit OTs working in the home modification sector. These will be available from our website when completed and signed-off by the working group and MOD.A.

We are still developing our training program for the next twelve months based on feedback from the Member Survey but continue to provide one-off training and information sessions on a fee-for-service basis to various stakeholders and providers when requested.

On 12-13 August we conducted a training session on behalf of OTNSW for rural OTs on basic environmental modifications in Taree. Participants engaged in practical and interactive tasks exploring the core concepts central to designing home modifications.

If you are interested in a specific education or training workshop in your local area contact our Senior OT Sandi Lightfoot-Collins via email.

MOD.A National Conference 2017

We are close to finalising the venue and dates for our next National Conference in Sydney August 2017. More details will be available in next months newsletter.

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ACSA 2016 National Summit. Hotel Grand Chancellor, Hobart, 6-9 September 2016.

Dementia Forum: Stories of Me. Sydney, 15 September.

Home Modification Forum - OTs and Project Managers Working Together. Parkville, Victoria, 15 September.

Occupational therapists working in the field of home modification in Victoria are invited to this Home Modification Forum which explores the opportunities and challenges for occupational therapists and project managers working together to provide home modification services in the new insurance environment. Organised by Architecture & Access, MOD.A member.

2016 AAG Conference - Capitalising on the Ageing Dividend: Re-imagining our Future. Canberra, 2-4 November 2016

Occupational Therapy Australia - 27th National Conference and Exhibition 2017. Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre, 19-21 July 2017.

MOD.A National Conference. August 2017.


6th International Conference for Universal Design. Nagoya, Japan. 9-11 December 2016.