Home Modifications and Durable Medical Equipment Differences

Home Modifications and Durable Medical Equipment Differences

Learn more about the common modification projects that lead to greater health outcomes.

80% of in-home falls are due to environmental hazards. This statistic is just one of the many reasons proper home modifications are crucial to the safety and health outcomes of aging adults. However, many health plans, healthcare professionals and families looking for solutions struggle to understand the difference between Durable Medical Equipment and Home Modifications. This gap includes what classifies as a “home modification,” what home modification products/alterations are available, and the most beneficial use cases for each.

Durable Medical Equipment vs. Home Modifications

First and foremost, one must be fully aware of the difference between Durable Medical Equipment (DME) and Home Modifications.

DME refers to products like oxygen tanks, hospital beds, or canes - solutions traditionally covered by Medicare or Medicaid. Home modifications are products and home safety improvements, like door widenings or grab bars, that require a contractor to make permanent home changes.

The Most Common Home Modification Project Requests

Curbless Showers

We work with many individuals who have issues safely accessing their tubs or maneuvering around a small bathroom. Additionally, if they have had a recent fall or are in a wheelchair, they’ll often encounter difficulty getting into and out of the shower. We often recommend converting the tub into a curbless shower for these reasons.

While the cost varies for curbless showers, these projects often cost anywhere from $10,000-$25,000. The cost and scope of work will depend on the size of the shower and the bathroom’s plumbing, tiling, and layout. 

Curbless showers are a great safety feature for any home or person. Still, we mostly recommend them for individuals who are wheelchair users, experience limited mobility, have had previous falls, or have a neurological condition.

Tub Cuts

Another option for making the shower more accessible would be implementing a tub cut. This modification would be for someone who is mobile but struggling to step over the tub. The tub cut allows for a walk-in shower without the cost and time a curbless shower requires.

The typical tub rises 14” or so; however, the cut reduces this rise to 4”.  These can be installed in less than a day, creating easier step-thru access in the front of any existing fiberglass, acrylic, steel, or cast iron bathtub. The exciting thing is these tub cuts can be executed in a seamless and modern way, not interfering with the aesthetic of a bathroom.

The option chosen for tub conversions ultimately depends on the participant's diagnosis, prognosis, and whether they will require a wheelchair soon. 

Doorway Widening

Participants who use a mobility device, require a wheelchair, are bariatric, or are at risk for falls often require our assistance in improving the accessibility of their home entryways.

This home modification is relatively low cost, typically ranging from $2,500-$5,000. The standard measurement we generally convert these participant entryways to is 32” to 36”, which is optimal for wheelchair access.

It’s important to note that before these projects occur, contractors must evaluate whether or not the desired doorway for widening is load-bearing. Doorways on a load-bearing wall will often increase the cost and complexity of a project.


Improving access to all areas of the home is a life changer for the individuals we work with. We tend to recommend lifts to people with neurological conditions, leg weakness, wheelchair status, medical transport needs, Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), or medical instability.

There are a variety of options for lifts: outdoor stairlifts, indoor stairlifts, vertical platform lifts, incline platform lifts, etc. (elevators will not be covered under waiver services). The cost of a lift installation project will vary depending on the number of stairways, stairway width, and whether or not emergency access is available. 

Modular & Threshold Ramps

Ramps are often more cost-effective for wheelchair users than lifts and have a much higher turnaround time for participants (installed in 1-2 days).

The cost and build of a ramp vary for each home. Rise is an accessible measurement that can estimate project cost and installation time. For every inch of rise, a project will require one foot of the ramp. 

Grab Bars & Railings

Grab bars and railings are high-impact, low-cost health solutions. These projects allow for a quick turnaround and are clinically proven to reduce falls.

We recommend these products for those with neurological conditions, CHF, cognitive impairment, and muscle weakness.

These projects usually cost under $2,000. However, homes that pose extensive safety hazards and require more installations than average rarely cost more than $5,000 to modify for fall reduction support. Fall reduction products chosen for each project vary depending on the participants' needs and design choices.

Targeted Home Modifications for Function

  • Decluttering/Furniture Reorganization
  • Transfer Supports
  • Lighting
  • Accessibility Height Toilets
  • Wheelchair Accessible Counters
  • Hallway Widening
  • Anti-Slip Flooring
  • Fire Safety (ex. automatic stove shut-offs)

A diverse array of home hazard solutions are available for individuals aging in place. At Jukebox Health, we advocate for an optimal approach to identifying and addressing these concerns through an Occupational Therapist-led process. Our network includes skilled OTs who conduct on-site visits, expertly identify potential risks in the home. Using our technology, these identified needs can be seamlessly matched with appropriate product solutions.

Once the product solutions are chosen, our technology then allows for direct scheduling of installations by our network of qualified installers. If you’re unsure if your project falls under assistive technology or home modifications, or if you' like to learn more about our services you can always contact us personally at hello@jukeboxhealth.com.

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