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7.2.5 Any other relevant matter

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Last amended 
28 July 2016

Any other matters that are relevant to considering a claim for household services will be entirely dependent on the circumstances of a particular case.  The most obvious example of any other relevant matter is a report obtained from an Occupational Therapist in relation to what household services are reasonably required.

Participation in a rehabilitation program

Where a person is actively involved in a rehabilitation program and especially when the rehabilitation program involves return to work activities (e.g. a work trial), claims for household services which will enhance the likelihood of successful rehabilitation should be given favourable consideration.  In these circumstances the approval of household services should coincide with the duration of the rehabilitation program.

Change in circumstances

Compensation for household services are provided due to a client’s inability to complete tasks of a domestic nature, required for the proper running and maintenance of their household, as a result of their accepted conditions. Household services can only be approved where the client was responsible for the task prior to their service related injury or illness, and is now unable to complete that task due to the impact of their injury or illness. Household services are provided to address the needs of the DVA client, not their family or other members of their household. It is recognised however, that provision of household services can benefit all members of the household.

For this reason, matters considered relevant to a household services claim also include whether the household services are reasonably required for a particular period of time due to a change in circumstances. For example, if the client is in hospital or respite care temporarily, or if they are a serving member who has been deployed, then household services cannot be provided. This is because it is not the client’s accepted conditions that prevents them from undertaking household tasks, but the fact that are not in their home. In these circumstances, if the client is already approved for household services their "usual" household services arrangements need to be put on hold, and any invoices presented by household services providers must be scrutinised carefully to ensure that payments are only made for assistance that was actually provided to the client while they were in their own home. This applies to household services undertaken by professional providers or by a partner or relative of the client.

Individual circumstances must be taken into account when determining whether the service is reasonably required for a specified period. For example, if the client is away from home for an extended period, it may be considered reasonable that a lawn mowing service and a household clean be provided before the client returns home.

A person should be given at least 28 days notice of any intention to reduce or cease the level of household services approved so that they have a fair opportunity to provide further evidence in support of their claim or discuss the change in circumstances. Please refer to section 7.4 [2] of this Guide for further information about approving and reviewing household services decisions.

Moving into care

If the client moves into palliative care or residential aged care on a permanent basis, then the household services payments should be ceased from the date that they entered care on a permanent basis. If the person returns home from care, then their household services payments can be reactivated from the date that they were discharged from the care facility. Another OT assessment may be required if the client's needs have changed as a result of their hospitalisation.

Where household services are to cease following a client’s entry to care, the person should still be given 28 days notice of the intent to cease the level of household services approved. This provides them a fair opportunity to discuss the change in circumstances if required and for their spouse or family if they have one, to make alternative arrangements.

Work Health and Safety

Where there is a high level of risk associated with undertaking a particular service, irrespective of whether the client undertook the task prior to their injury, it is reasonable the service should be undertaken by a professional and the client cannot be compensated for that service. 

Community standards should be used as a benchmark to determine whether there is a high level of risk or sufficient concern for a person’s health and safety in undertaking a certain task and thus whether, that task should be undertaken by a professional.

Tasks undertaken at height

Where a task needs to be undertaken at height, community standards are such that most people would be unlikely to perform the task themselves, particularly where they need to physically get onto a roof. Consistent with the policy guidelines in section 7.1.1 [3] of this Guide, services for which a person might usually or reasonably need to employ a professional service provider, due to the safety risk associated with the task, would not normally fall within the definition of a household service and the client cannot be compensated for household services. The following circumstances outline when it would not be reasonable to compensate a person for household services, for tasks undertaken at height:

  • Two storey house - it is reasonable to consider that gutter cleaning and solar panel cleaning on a two storey house would generally be undertaken by a professional. Accordingly, no compensation for household services can be paid.

  • Single storey house - it is reasonable to consider that gutter cleaning and solar panel cleaning for a single storey house does not need to be undertaken by a professional. This is because the same height risks associated with undertaking these tasks on a two storey house, are not present on a single storey house.  However, if the solar panels are in such a place that the person is required to be on the roof to clean them, then this is a task that should be undertaken by a professional and compensation for household services cannot be paid.

If a delegate is unsure whether a task is considered high risk by community standards, please initially discuss this with the assessing service provider. The service providers knowledge of the environment may assist with the decision making process or, if this still does not resolve the issue, please contact rehabilitation@dva.gov.au [4] for assistance.

Rental properties

When considering whether someone reasonably requires household services, it does not matter if the person owns the property or is renting. The prime consideration is whether the person is actually responsible for undertaking the tasks that they are requesting assistance with as part of their obligations under their tenancy agreement. The best way to ascertain this information is for the OT undertaking the ADL assessment to confirm whether the client’s rental agreement stipulates the tasks that the client is responsible for outside the home. The OT may do this by viewing the rental agreement during the assessment, or contacting the real estate agent/landlord directly if a copy of the agreement is not available.

Consistent with any other claim for household services, the other criteria outlined in section 7.2 of this chapter must also be considered in determining whether the services are reasonably required. For example, if a person had not previously lived in a property with a pool, and moved into a rental property that has a pool, pool cleaning could not be provided as a household service because it was not a task the person undertook prior to their injury. In this case, a tenancy agreement stating that the person was responsible for cleaning the pool would not, by itself, be sufficient for the pool cleaning to be approved.

While each state and territory has rules around what tasks a property owner and tenant are responsible for, these responsibilities can vary according to a landlord’s preference. Therefore, if a tenancy agreement and/or real estate agent confirm that a person is responsible for a certain task this can be taken as sufficient evidence that the person is responsible for that task.