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8.4.4 Aids and Appliances

Last amended: 5 September 2013

The definition of treatment in section 13 includes the provision of aids and appliances in paragraph 13(2)(b).  However, aids and appliances may also be provided under Chapter 3 of the MRCA, either in conjunction with a rehabilitation program or to those who have been assessed under section 44 as not having the capacity for rehabilitation.

Section 5 states that a medical aid of a person means an artificial limb or other artificial substitute, or a medical, surgical or other similar aid or appliance, that is used by the person.

The requirement for an aid or appliance pursuant to Chapter 3 is considered according to the criteria specified in section 58(2).  Included at paragraph 58(2)(b) is consideration of any difficulties faced by the person in gaining access to, or enjoying reasonable freedom of movement in, his or her place of residence, education, work or service.

In general terms an aid or appliance pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 3 is designed to assist a person to enjoy freedom of movement in the community.  Items that might assist in the home could include backrests, grab rails, shower chairs, pick-up sticks, specially designed chairs, tap turners and other adaptive equipment.  Items that might assist in the workplace could include document holders, writing boards, specially designed chairs, footrests and wrist-rests.  A medical aid or appliance provided as treatment under Chapter 6 should have a curative or palliative effect.  Typically these items are likely to include prostheses, orthopaedic footwear, wheelchairs and tens machines.  In practice, many aids or appliances could come under either provision.

Section 274(1) of the MRCA provides that aids and appliances that can be provided via Chapter 3 of the MRCA may not be provided under Treatment Pathway 1.  However it needs to be recognised that the provision of alterations, aids and appliances under Chapter 3 of the MRCA is dependent upon the person at least having been assessed for rehabilitation in accordance with section 44.

If a person has been provided with an aid or appliance under Treatment Pathway 1 and later undertakes a rehabilitation assessment, any future aids and appliances including the repair or replacement of aids and appliances previously provided, should be dealt with under Chapter 3.

Part 11 of the MRCA Treatment Principles also provides aids and appliances via the Rehabilitation Aids and Appliances Program and HomeFront (RAP) for those MRCA persons on Treatment Pathway 2.  However, the MRCA Treatment Principles also state that compensation should be provided under Chapters 3 or 4 of the MRCA, and that RAP should only be utilised when those Chapters are not applicable.  The reference to Chapter 4 in Part 11 of the MRCA Treatment Principles is a reference to the Motor Vehicle Compensation Scheme, which is discussed in detail in Chapter 9 of this manual.

Wholly dependent partners and eligible young persons who are dependants of a deceased MRCA person do not have access to the provisions of Chapter 3 or Chapter 4 of the MRCA, and therefore only have access to alterations, aids and appliances provided for in Part 11 of the MRCA Treatment Principles.  Accordingly, Part 11 of the MRCA Treatment Principles generally only applies to wholly dependent partners and eligible young persons, or to those MRCA persons who have not undertaken a rehabilitation assessment in accordance with section 44.

Home alterations

There is only limited scope for alterations to a person's home in Part 11.9 of the MRCA Treatment Principles.  There is no provision for alterations in the Treatment Pathway 1 provisions contained in Part 2 of Chapter 6 of the MRCA.  Accordingly, alterations to a person's place of residence, education, work or service should be provided via the provisions contained in Chapter 3 of the MRCA. Details about assistance with home alterations can also be found in chapter 10 of the Rehabilitation Guide.

Assistance, guide and hearing dogs as aids

Last amended: 5 September 2013

Information about guide, hearing and assistance (service and companion) dogs as aids, including the specific assistance that each of the different types of dogs are trained to provide, can be found in chapter 10.6.4 of the Rehabilitation Guide.

Guide dogs and hearing dogs are regarded as a medical aid or appliance. A guide or hearing dog would therefore normally be considered in the context of the person's medical treatment.

Assistance dogs (service and companion dogs) are regarded as a rehabilitation aid. The rehabilitation policy guidelines regarding the provision of companion or service assistance dogs and the payment for costs associated with keeping these dogs are still being finalised and all requests for assistance are being considered by the MRCC.

Please refer to chapter 10.6.4 of the Rehabilitation Guide for details about the information that must be forwarded to rehabilitation@dva.gov.au before a request for a service or companion dog can be considered.