UNSW researchers have designed a first-of-its-kind app that will help people with disabilities and older Australians modify their homes to stay in them for longer.

The DIYmodify App, funded by the Department of Family and Community Services will help consumers make decisions around purchasing five common home modifications including grab rails and handheld showers.

DIYmodify will be launched today by the NSW Minister for Disability Services Ray Williams. 

Overwhelmingly, people want to stay in their own homes rather than go into care.

The app links directly to UNSW’s HMinfo Clearinghouse website, which provides the most up-to-date information and research available on home modifications.

“Overwhelmingly, people want to stay in their own homes rather than go into care,” says UNSW Associate Professor Catherine Bridge, Director of the HMinfo Clearinghouse based at UNSW School of Built Environment.

UNSW research shows more than 15,000 DIY home modifications are undertaken by people with disability and older Australians each year in NSW alone.

“Our aim is to keep people better informed, safer and able to stay in their homes for longer,” says Associate Professor Bridge.

The HMinfo Clearinghouse analysed consumer sales data from the largest national hardware chain by monitoring the sale of five products; grabrails; handrails, hand-held showers, shower infills and small ramps. 

“When people complete their own home modifications, they can choose the products they want and have control over the process – the DIYmodify App is designed to assist them with this and shows that grab rails and ramps can be installed in a way that won’t make their home look like a hospital.” 

Associate Professor Bridge says the app was co-designed with input from people with disability and seniors to ensure the highest level of accessibility for people with cognitive, vision and physical impairment, as well as non-English speakers.

“We’re giving people information at the time they need it, presented in a way that is understandable to them. For example, many people don’t know that they can add a ramp to their shower, to raise its level and it will only cost them $100 rather than $2000.”

The app is free and available for both iPhone/iPad and Android devices and can be downloaded here.