Modify Your Home for Your Child with Special Needs
Posted on April 9, 2019 by Ann
If you have a child with special needs, it is important to consider adapting or modifying your home so that your home:
- is safer and more accessible for your child,
- allows ease of movement, especially if your child has mobility issues,
- allows your child your child to perform daily activities within his or her ability and with lesser effort, and
- is conducive to learning and creativity.
Thinking about making these changes may seem daunting at first but remember that you do not need to complete all in a day. Here is our guide to how you can get started modifying your home for your child.
Identify the modifications you need.
The extent of home modification depends on the nature of your child’s needs.
Look around your home, observe your child’s activities in your home or visualise his or her future activities while growing up. Then do some research to decide on what exactly you need.
Read our article for 12 simple and common home modifications you might be able to make yourself.
You can also consult an occupational therapist (OT), who will assess your home and your resources, and make suitable recommendations. Touch Caregivers Support assists caregivers with home assessment and follow-up with contractors.
Set your budget.
Based on the scope of work, consider your budget, the cost of the modifications and the financial assistance available. Remember to budget unexpected costs and incidental costs like the cost of staying at a hotel for a day or two.
Before you commission or purchase any modifications, do consider your eligibility for the following government funds and schemes and submit your applications accordingly.
|Funding/Subsidy||Description||Timeframe and Special Notes|
|Assistive Technology Fund||The Assistive Technology Fund (ATF) provides subsidies for persons with disabilities (PWDs) to purchase assistive technology devices to enable independent living.|
Successful applicants qualify for a means-tested subsidy of up to 90% of the cost of the required equipment, subject to a lifetime cap of $40,000.
|SG Enable requires up to 15 working days to process the application.
Do note that SG Enable will not accept reimbursement for devices already purchased.
|Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE) Direct Application||The EASE programme was developed for senior citizens and the website states that the qualifying criteria is an elderly member in the household.|
However, we spoke to an official from HDB who explained that it is possible for anyone with mobility issues to apply for this programme. It is necessary to submit a Functional Assessment Report and a medical report that justifies the need for this package.
The EASE package includes the following improvement items:
1. Slip-resistant treatment to existing floor tiles of up to 2 bathrooms/ toilets
2. Grab bars (8 or 10 grab bars for the first toilet and 6 grab bars for the second toilet)
3. Up to a maximum of 5 ramps within the flat and/or at the main entrance (where technically feasible)
|HDB will revert within 7 working days.
If you are successful, the whole process takes about a month.
|Wheelchair Lifter Pilot Scheme (for HDB flats with multi-step entrances if the ramp solutions offered under EASE cannot be installed due to site constraints.)||Starting from 5 December 2018, the Government will subsidise 50% of the installation cost of wheelchair lifters under a pilot scheme for residents with mobility issues.|
The cost of the wheelchair lifter is estimated at $3,920. With the subsidy from the Government, Singapore Citizen households will pay $1,960, regardless of flat type.
|If you are successful, the whole process takes about a month.|
Select your contractors/vendors.
Do ask other parents in your support groups for advice and references. The experience of others who have been in your shoes is priceless.
Schedule time for modification.
Make the necessary arrangements at work and for babysitting in advance so that you have enough time to handle the modifications. Do remember to schedule for possible delays.
Continue to enhance your home.
As your child grow, further modifications may need to be made. Furthermore, new and improved designs are constantly being developed. Even after you have completed this project, do continue to look out for ways to enhance your home.
For more information:
Appendix C of Building and Construction Authority’s Code on Accessibility 2013 provides useful and specific design guidelines specifically for children who are wheelchair bound or ambulant disabled.