“I think I could have designed it better, but I didn’t think that it was my place”: a critical review of home modification practices from the perspectives of health and of design

Michael Lo Bianco, Natasha Layton, Gianni Renda, Rachael McDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The research presented demonstrates the disharmony between end user goals and their consideration in service outcomes within ageing-in-place and asks “what can design offer health” within this domain. Methods: Data was collected using semi-structured interviews with various stakeholders within the context of ageing in place. All data are thematically analysed through a theoretical lens of control theory. Results: The results demonstrate a contrast between purported patient-centred care models, and a human-centred design model. This contrast in cultures causes a disconnect between the health practitioners and the end users, with a lack of clarity about the end user's intended engagement within the modification of their environment. Consequently, the goals of older adults are inadequately represented as typical home modification design processes often fail to support the reflection of goals in practice, in turn, restricting client engagement and control. Reviewing occupational therapy practices through the critical lens of control has highlighted opportunities for service improvements. Conclusion: The consideration of co-design methodologies within home modification design is a way to reinforce client engagement and provide better pathways for older adults to remain in control and raise acceptability of modification through a better-informed decision-making process.Implications for Rehabilitation The following points detail the implications of this research upon the rehabilitation practice and theory: Compliance with recommendations is deeply connected to a person’s intrinsic sense of control within the clinical decision-making process. Co-design practices between practitioners and clients provide and novel pathway to achieve truly person-centred care and create better service experiences and clinical outcomes. The human-centred design methodology is highly applicable within clinical practice and provides an opportunity for clinicians to see and learn about their patients through a holistic lens centred around goals and motivations rather than physical impairments. The scoping of health literacy should be inclusive of all service artefacts and touchpoints that a client may encounter throughout the entire duration of experience, this includes design artefacts such as architectural drawings and other home modification designs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)781-788
Number of pages8
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Ageing in place
  • falls
  • home modification
  • occupational therapy
  • user-centred design

Cite this