Recent disability and aged care reforms in Australia have shifted emphasis from ongoing support and care toward prevention and early intervention, complementing universal design values of equity and flexibility. The reforms encourage the active engagement of individuals in the choices they make about housing and the support and care they receive, and will drive a preference to age in place. Approximately 2% of Australia's housing stock is new built each year, with a small proportion incorporating universal design principles. Consequently, existing premises will need to be modified to enable people who are ageing and people with disability to live in the community and receive support at home. This paper considers how, in a person-centred support environment, do-it-yourself (DIY) home modifications expand our understanding of universal design, as DIY can empower individuals to exercise autonomy and control over their lives and the choices they make.
This paper uses preliminary findings from research undertaken at the Home Modification Information Clearinghouse (Australia) into DIY home modifications to illustrate how the DIY process reaffirms the role of the individual in universal design. First, the paper provides an overview of the Australian reforms and universal housing design in Australia to highlight the potential of modifications to enable aging in place. The paper then provides an overview of the project and research methods, followed by a discussion of preliminary findings. The paper concludes that DIY highlights the importance of individual choice and control over changes made to a person's home. DIY home modification practices should inform the way that universal design policies accommodate and facilitate the views and preferences of the individuals they are designed to serve.