Cohabitants’ perspective on housing adaptations: a piece of the puzzle
A housing adaptation (HA) is an individually tailored intervention eliminating physical barriers in the home environment. It includes alterations on fixed features of the home such as replacing a bathtub with a shower or building a ramp at an entrance staircase. It does not include interventions relating to assistive devices or loose objects, or reorganising furniture to get more space. All Scandinavian countries provide individual grants for HAs. In Sweden, the intervention aims at promoting safe and independent living for people with disabilities in ordinary housing and is regulated by the Swedish Housing Adaptation Act. The publicly funded HAs are administered by the Swedish municipalities and can be granted after a needs‐based assessment 8. In 2014, the most commonly granted HAs were removal of thresholds, installation of grab bars, ramps at entrances and timers on kitchen stoves. Grants for approximately 116 million € were granted and 58% of the grants regarded adaptations for less than 520 €. More than 72% of the applicants were 70 years or older 9.
With an increasing number of older people 10 who are expected to age‐in‐place in the face of disability and dependence on others, the need of interventions such as adaptations and modifications of the home is likely to increase. Home modifications, a related but broader concept, include housing adaptations as well as adaptations such as rearrangement of furniture and provision of assistive technology and assistive devices 11. Several positive outcomes of home modifications and HAs for the client have been demonstrated, for example in relation to falls 12, usability 15 and activity 16.
While some studies have explored the applicants’ experiences of HAs 19 and home modifications 6, studies with an explicit focus on the cohabitants’ or caregivers’ expectations and experiences of sharing home where HAs have been made are lacking.