Recliners and lift chairs

Case

Brenda’s disability means she needs help with some core mobility tasks, such as safely standing from a seated position. She works with her therapist to explore support options that help make this task easier. Based on her therapist’s recommendation, she asks us to fund an electric lift chair.

Would we fund this?

Yes, we would typically fund buying or hiring a lift chair or specialised recliner chair if you can’t stand independently. They are generally effective and beneficial and have been shown to help people sit and stand independently. This means they are likely to meet our funding criteria. You will need to provide evidence from your therapist or clinician that this equipment is effective and beneficial for your disability support needs.

Why would we fund this?

Recliner chairs are common household furniture. A lot of people buy them and they are found in many homes in Australia. Household furniture that most people have in their homes is unlikely to be a disability-related support. Therefore we are unlikely to fund it.

If, however, you need this furniture because of your disability support needs, we may consider it reasonable and necessary for you. This most commonly relates to specialist furniture designed specifically for disability or aged-care support.

To work out whether a support is reasonable and necessary for you, we look at the information you give us against the NDIS Funding Criteria. You would have to show evidence that you need the furniture to support your disability. This, for example, could be an assessment from a registered therapist.

It would need to show us that the recliner or lift chair:

  • is needed directly as a result of your disability
  • can be properly installed and safely operated
  • will be effective and beneficial in increasing your independence when moving between sitting and standing.

It also needs to show that the recliner or lift chair is value for money. This may include giving us evidence from a therapist or clinician that shows either:

  • a comparable support, such as a more cost-effective chair, would not properly meet your disability support needs
  • the recliner or lift chair would likely reduce the long-term cost of other supports, for example home care support hours.

To work out whether the chair you ask for is value for money, we also look at such things as
the ongoing maintenance and repair when compared with other supports that would achieve the same outcome. For example, it may be more cost effective to rent the recliner or chair. Your planner will decide how much funding you’ll need for maintenance and repairs based on the expected cost and how often the chair will need maintenance or repairs.

In most cases, the funding for a recliner chair also includes the cost of delivery and installation. You planner will think about these costs when assessing whether the recliner or chair is value for money.

What else do we think about?

We won’t fund extra items that don’t relate to your disability. You may, however, choose to pay extra from your own money if you would like to have:

  • a particular brand, model or design of an item with the same specifications
  • add-on special features not related to your disability needs, such as leather arm supports.

If the chair you ask for has higher functionality than the base model, we will work out whether the higher-priced item still meets our Funding Criteria. We will think about whether you need the higher functionality as a direct result of your disability and whether it is value for money.

Case example

Dimitri is 32 and lives alone. He has muscular dystrophy and due to ongoing deterioration in his muscle strength, he is falling more often when he tries to stand up out of his lounge chair. Dimitri’s therapist recommends he buy a sit-to-stand recliner chair to help him transfer safely.

Dimitri asks us to fund his sit-to-stand recliner chair. He give us his therapist’s recommendation and a quote for the recommended specialised electric recliner chair.

To work out whether the funding for the sit-to-stand recliner chair is reasonable and necessary, his planner looks at this information against the NDIS Funding Criteria.

The planner thinks about a range of things.

  • Is the chair a disability related support, or a day-to-day living cost not related to, or caused by, Dimitri’s disability? We would not fund a day-to-day cost. To work this out the planner considers whether Dimitri needs the chair because of his disability support needs. That is, whether his muscular dystrophy is the reason he can’t transfer safely out of his lounge chair. Or does he need the chair for a non disability related reason? For example, he can’t transfer safely because his current chair is old or broken.
  • What are the benefits of the requested specialised sit-to-stand recliner chair? Will it achieve the desired outcome of preventing or minimising Dimitri’s disability-related falls?
  • How does the cost of the quoted sit-to-stand chair compare with other specialist recliner chairs available? The planner would look at the typical base model as a benchmark to show if there are more cost-effective options with equivalent performance and function.
  • What other services or comparable supports are available. This might include Dimitri’s therapist developing a strengthening program to increase his ability to stand independently.

In Dimitri’s case the planner decides:

  • there is evidence to show Dimitri’s falls are directly related to his disability and he needs the recliner to support his disability
  • the sit-to-stand chair is not a day-to-day living cost or general household item because it is a specialised assistive technology item, recommended by his therapist and needed to support his disability
  • the therapist report gives enough evidence to show the chair will be, or is likely to be, effective and beneficial for Dimitri, having regard to current good practice.

The planner also decides that the sit-to-stand chair is value for money. Its cost is comparable with what would be expected for a sit-to-stand chair. The planner decides that options such as general furniture items or a strengthening program, are unlikely to adequately meet Dimitri’s disability support needs. They may be unsafe, or otherwise unsuitable. The quote doesn’t include extra chair accessories not related to Dimitri’s disability support needs.

The planner assesses funding for the specialised sit-to-stand recliner chair as reasonable and necessary and this is approved in Dimitri’s plan.

For more information, refer to;

This page current as of
20 April 2021
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