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10.5 Maintenance, Repair and Replacement of Aids and Appliances
This section provides information about the maintenance, servicing, repair and replacement of aids and appliances provided through:
- The Rehabilitation Appliances Program (RAP); or
- The alterations, aids and appliances provisions under section 56 of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) or section 39 of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRCA).
1. Rehabilitation Appliances Program (RAP)
If the aid or appliance was provided through RAP, the maintenance, repair or replacement of items will need to be organised through RAP. DVA have maintenance and repair provisions included in the RAP contractual arrangements with suppliers and these arrangements vary depending on whether supply was based on a purchase or a hire model.
If the aid or appliance has been provided through RAP, it is expected that the client will contact the supplier of the aid or appliance to inform them that the item requires attention. Where prior approval of the maintenance, repair or replacement is required, the supplier will contact RAP to obtain such approval. If the supplier is unknown, or the client is experiencing difficulties with having the item maintained, repaired or replaced, the client can contact DVA to progress the request by calling 1300 254 (metro) or 1800 555 254 (country).
RAP do not accept responsibility for the maintenance or repair of RAP funded modifications/alterations that are due to normal wear and tear occurring over time. For example, the resealing of a wooden ramp is maintenance due to the normal wear and tear of a modification and such maintenance is the responsibility of the homeowner.
It should be noted that it is the supplier’s responsibility to undertake regular preventative maintenance on major household alterations such as inclinators, stair climbers, stair chairs, wheelchair platform and water lifts.
If repair to modifications/alterations is required as a result of faulty work by the supplier or tradesman, the client will need to contact the supplier or tradesman directly.
For further information please see the RAP National Guidelines on the DVA website.
2. The alterations, aids and appliances provisions
Repair to aids and applainces
If the aid, appliance or alteration has been provided through the MRCA or SRCA alterations, aids and appliances provisions, then any repair of the item should also be considered under the same provisions. The DVA Rehabilitation Coordinator is responsible for considering whether the repair is reasonably required, and for approving or rejecting a request, and if approved, organising for the repair of an item.
Replacement of aids and appliances
If the person has a DVA health card and the aid, appliance or alteration that was provided under the alterations, aids and appliances provisions needs to be replaced, consideration must first be given as to whether the replacement item can be provided under RAP.
In most cases a new assessment will be required, to ensure that there is an understanding of the client’s current needs and circumstances, and that the aid and appliance will be continue to be appropriate for their ongoing needs. Further information about the RAP assessment process can be found in section 10.2.2 of this Guide.
If the item is not available through RAP or the person does not have a DVA health card, replacement of the item can be considered under the relevant alterations, aids and appliances provisions. In these circumstances, the Rehabilitation Coordinator is responsible for considering whether the replacement is reasonably required, and approving or rejecting a request for replacement of an item. In most cases an assessment by an Occupational Therapist or other appropriately qualified health professional will be required to ensure that the replacement aid will continue to meet the client’s ongoing needs. If clear evidence is available that the client’s needs and circumstances have not changed and that an assessment is not required, then Rehabilitation Coordinators have the discretion to approve the item without an assessment. Justification for this approach must be documented in the client’s Defcare record.
Client responsibilities for aids and appliances
Clients have a responsibility to care for aids and appliances appropriately, and to contact their rehabilitation provider or Rehabilitation Coordinator if the item has become unsafe or requires repair or replacement. If it is clear that the aid or appliance has been damaged through normal wear and tear, and the person will require the item on an ongoing basis, then the approval process should be straightforward. However, if there are concerns that the item is being damaged due to continuing inappropriate or unsafe use, then the policy framework for damage to aids and appliances due to suspected misuse may be a useful resource. DVA Rehabilitation Coordinators can find this resource on the rehabilitation page of the Rehabilitation and Compensation Support site under "aids and appliances."
Aids and appliances that are lost, damaged, stolen or unserviceable will be considered for replacement on a case by case basis. Where the cost of repairing an item is equal to or more than the replacement value of the item, then it is to be replaced. This approach is also to be used for aids and appliances purchased for a client by DVA while they were still a serving ADF member undergoing rehabilitation through the Australian Defence Force Rehabilitation Program (ADFRP).
Where aids and appliances owned by the client's employer require maintenance, repair or replacement, then these costs must be met by the employer. However, if the client is unable to work because the aids are not functioning or in good condition, and the employer refuses to meet their commitments, then a Rehabilitation Coordinator may consider it reasonable for DVA to pay for the maintenance, repair or replacement costs. Each case needs to be considered on it's own merits.
Repairs to household alterations
As a general principle, the client is responsible for maintaining major alterations made to their house and ensuring that infrastructure such as widened doorways, bathroom modifications, raised kitchen or laundry benches etc are maintained in good working order. This is because it is unlikely that these items should need repair or maintenance on an ongoing basis.
However, less permanent alterations such as ramps, grab rails and paving may at times require repair, maintenance or replacement if they become loose or dangerous. If these items were provided through the rehabilitation provisions, rather than through RAP, then the costs of the repair, maintenance or replacement should be considered and may be approved under those provisions. Rehabilitation Coordinators should consider whether the repair, maintenance or replacement is due to normal wear and tear or damage due to misuse or abuse of the fixture, and whether the repair is reasonably required.
For example, paving of a driveway was provided for a client who is wheelchair bound six months ago. Over this short period, a large number of pavers at the edges of the driveway have become dislodged, creating an uneven surface which is difficult for the client to move across safely in his wheelchair. The client's son drives a truck and his fully loaded vehicle drives down and is parked in the driveway on a regular basis. In this case, the Rehabilitation Coordinator is not satisfied that the surface has deteriorated as a result of normal wear and tear, but rather due to the excessively heavy loads that the paving is carrying. The Rehabilitation Coordinator determines that, due to the circumstances that led to the deterioration, the client is responsible for meeting the costs of the repair to the driveway.
If a Rehabilitation Coordinator is not sure what has led to the deterioration, a building inspection may help to identify this. For example, a building inspection may show that the lifting of pavers is due to root damage from trees. In this case, DVA would not pay for the trees to be removed, as this would be regarded as general maintenance to the property, which is the responsibility of the building owner. DVA would however consider funding the repair of the paving once the trees have been removed. Another scenario is that water damage to a wall is caused by a leak, which in turn has caused grab rails to become loose. DVA would not fund the repair to the leak, or remediation of the water damage. However, we would cover the costs of replacing the grab rail once this maintenance is completed.