Saturday, February 24, 2018

"Spring Cleaning Time Is Almost Here - A Time To Focus On The Stuff We Have"

It won't be long until we get to engage in that annual event known as spring cleaning. Of course, it doesn't have to be limited just to once a year, but we seem to enjoy opening up the house, straightening things up, and tossing out a few things that we no longer need. This has been an annual tradition for a long time.

Over the winter, we may have identified things that we have been holding onto that we don't need to keep. Things seem to have a way of attaching themselves to our homes, and we find it very difficult to get rid of much of it. As a result, we end up with a whole lot more in our homes than what we are using on a frequent basis.

In fact, many of us have a lot of mostly unwanted and unnecessary stuff that finding a home for it (if we really do intend to continue keeping it) is a constant challenge. Many people have outgrown the traditional storage places in their homes of closets, dressers, cabinets, attics, garages, basements (for those who have them), and even shed in the yard. Largely unknown a few years ago, warehouse storage units have begun dotting the landscape for us to place all of those items that don't fit into our homes anymore.

Springtime gives us the opportunity to focus on just how much extra stuff we have accumulated over the years. When people need help organizing or dispensing with some of their extra stuff that might be interfering with their quality of life in their homes or the way they get around inside their homes, we can help them.

Some people can immediately toss mail, catalogs, flyers, and other items they know they don't want or won't use. They don't need to stack them up and then go through them at a later time to determine then that they don't need them. They can make a decision now to keep some order in what they retain. They are able to do the same thing with old or outdated clothes and fashions, expired foodstuffs, old toys, or broken items (or ones with missing parts).

Some people tend to hang onto most everything - at least temporarily. They know they likely won't want or need all of it, but it's easier to hang onto it in the short-term than to make the decision to get rid of it. Sometimes that temporary status gets erased and those items become long-term members of the family. Meanwhile, even if many of those items eventually are discarded, they add to the amount of accumulating clutter in the home while they are present.

Then, there are people who seem to hang onto everything - just in case. There is the feeling that one never knows when they might need something that was left over from assembling a toy or piece of furniture. When a small appliance breaks or stops working - or it's replaced by a newer version - that item is kept for parts, power cords, or the possibility that it can be returned to running order at some future date. Typically, that never happens, and the parts from older models never seem to fit the newer ones anyway.

Regardless of how much or how little a person hangs onto, many people recognize that they need some order in their lives and in their homes. Springtime is a convenient and customary time for this to occur. A fairly common practice, therefore, is creating folders or envelopes for paper storage, with boxes, bins, and plastic containers for larger or bulkier items. 

Organization of stuff in our homes is more than just the acquisition of storage devices and then accumulating more and more of them to hold all of the stuff that we have. There has to be a way to know what is stored, which container it is in, and how to locate and access that particular container when the item is needed again. Otherwise, those containers only serve to add to the clutter issue.

Of course, cutting back in a significant way on what we allow to remain in our homes that are not serious keepsakes or mementos or items that we are using (now or when the seasons change), is the way to enjoy our homes more and make sure there is room for us in addition to what we choose to keep.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Friday, February 23, 2018

"Exhibiting At A Home Show Can Pay Big Dividends"

It soon will be spring, and people will begin thinking about their yards, gardens, and spring cleaning. In many markets, there will be opportunities to exhibit at home and garden shows that are open to the public.

Since we all need new customers and for people to understand what products and services we provide. There are many ways this can happen such as having a storefront location in a heavily trafficked area, an infomercial, a large display ad in a widely circulated paper or magazine, a successful website or blog, or a great word-of-mouth campaign.

Another way to get in front of a lot of people - with the potential to purchase something at some point - in a fairly compact amount of time is by taking a booth at a home and garden show.

Before signing up to have a booth, however, there are several questions to answer. The first one is whether this is the best marketing choice for us. It's true that we will be in a position to have dozens or even hundreds of interested people walk by us, but there is a hefty cost involved that needs to be considered.

To have a booth at a show takes space rental (a 10' by 10' booth, normally the smallest one that is offered, represents 100 square feet) at so much per square foot. Then there's furnishing the booth with furniture (tables and chairs or stools), carpeting, backdrops, electricity, and displays, Add in signage, brochures, and takeaway items. Before the first sale is made, a substantial amount of money will need to be committed, even if everyone volunteers their time to be at the booth and saves us the manpower cost.

If we are primarily looking for exposure and don't have to break even on what it costs to rent the space and attend the event, that's a consideration also. If we want to make money during the event, we must factor in the number of sales or the amount of business needed.

It can be a great way to meet many people (maybe even a year's worth or more) who can potentially do business with us. It can also be an emotional and financial disappointment if we don't get that much interest from the participants at the event.

Location is a large part - though not the only factor - in channeling people to our display. The color of the decor and signage, the items on display, and being located near a more prominent vendor in terms of display space or name recognition can all affect how many people stop by to meet with us. Some of this we can control, and some we cannot.

Once people decide to stop at our booth, we must be prepared to engage them. We must be willing to take the initiative to speak with people - in a friendly approachable tone that says that we're there to meet and talk with them about what we offer and what they might need. If there seems to be some interest in talking more, we can arrange for that. If there seems to be minimal interest, thank them for stopping and let them go on their way.

There are other questions to consider as well such as show discounts and specials, what items or programs to feature or discuss, how many people to have staffing the booth, and collateral materials to have available.

A good idea before making the commitment to take a booth is to visit one of more shows - even from a different industry - to see what happens, watch the way the crowd moves about, and prepare for what we might expect at our booth when you have one.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

"Strategies For Connecting With Potential Clients"

To sell aging in place services and solutions to our clients - whether this means making actual physical improvements to their home, conducting assessments or evaluations on how they can improve the overall quality of life in their home by making a few lifestyle adjustments, or providing specific products to help them with mobility or sensory issues - we must meeting with them, and potential decision makers such as their caregivers, case managers, or other advisors in their home to discuss various alternatives and courses of action.

This is a hands-on, personal approach. Sure, people can shop for and purchase products online from various websites - if they know what they want and need. They can get grab bars, faucets, lights, switches, door hardware, interactive electronic equipment, and other such devices. Still, so much of what we do with our clients requires that personal touch of meeting face-to-face - even when they already have purchased products and need help installing or using them.

Before most of us had websites, we had brochures. Many of us still do, but brochures don’t sell our services – anymore than websites or social media, their modern replacements, do. They open the door, they generate interest, they describe what we’re offering, they remind people of what we’ve already told them, they differentiate us from our competition, and they give people another opportunity to familiarize themselves with us and our products or services.

In short, they can generate the contact when we haven't already done that, or provide a reference point for people we already have met or talked with about solutions we might offer them.

People are accustomed to obtaining and receiving a brochure from us because that's the way it's always been for them. People also expect us to have a website, but they don’t make a decision based solely on either one.

They may eliminate several other contractors or service providers from further consideration based on what they see as appealing or not in a brochure or on a website, and they may create a “short list” of people they want to talk or meet with, but the purpose of having a website or a brochure is not to make a sale – it’s to create the contact to or to stimulate the willingness to engage us to help them with their issues.

We must generate the personal contact in order to make a sale. People need to meet us. They need to learn about what we offer firsthand, and they need to determine how well they like us and would like working with us why we provide very personal solutions for them. Selling aging in place applications is very relational.

We need to put enough information in our brochure or website to show people who might use our services enough about what we offer to generate some initial interest in working with us. We need to stand out from our competition, but we shouldn't count on our brochure or website as being a surrogate or silent salesperson for us - more like an ambassador.

If brochures were such a great sales tool, we should just mail one to everyone in town and be done with it. Then people who were interested in what we offer could simply make a decision from the brochure and set an appointment to do the paperwork or mail in their check.

Obviously, it doesn’t work that way, so why are we so concerned with giving out brochures or having them available for download on our website?

Let’s focus on meeting people and addressing their needs. Our website can generate the initial interest, and our brochures can remind them of what they experienced and help maintain their level of interest. Either way, it’s up to us to take it from there and make the sale.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

"But What If It's Not A Two-Story Home?"

Much of the commentary, guidelines, and standards for creating livable homes, or using visitable strategies for creating aging in place solutions focus on addressing multiple-floor layouts. But, what about the single floor design - the ranch, ramble, one-story, or other common names applied to a single-floor design - and ones on a concrete slab without a basement?

Unlike multiple floor layouts, the visitable concept does not need to extend beyond the main floor anyway. It reads that we should create a design that is the minimum space to accommodate a person in a wheelchair using the main floor of a home. That's a great concept, but if the main floor is the only floor, visitability takes on more significance because the whole home then becomes a visitable design.

With multiple floors (including basements), vertical access becomes important. Accommodating people going up and down stairs, and for the times when climbing stairs is difficult, impeded, or not physically possible, is often necessary in a two-story home or one with a basement. When assisting people going between floors is not a viable alternative due to the configuration of the home or the physical ability of the occupants, they are more limited in the use of their home. Because stair glides (also referred to by other names such as chair lifts, stair lifts, lift chairs, and chair glides) are not particularly expensive and can even be obtained on a refurbished basis, budget is not as much of a reason as the home and the individuals for deciding whether to install one.

Just the interior stairs in general - necessary in a two or more floor home or one with a basement - are not a factor in a single-level home. Their size, location, design, safety aspects, tread materials and coverings, railings, landings, lighting, access, and other parts of stairway construction and utilization are not something to consider.

Elevators are a much more universal design solution when stairs are present, but again, there needs to be more than one floor for this to work. Design strategies include creating two closets of the same size in a public area (such as a hallway) and stacking one closet over the other on each floor with the ceiling of the lower one (which at the same time is the floor of the upper one) being installed so that it can be removed at a future date to create a vertical shaft in which to install an elevator and car. The doors to each closet would become the elevator access.

As desirable as elevators are for movement of people and goods within the home - for visitors as well as full-time residents - they can be cost prohibitive for many people, and they only work in multiple-story homes of two or more floors or ones with a basement. They add value to a home because anyone of any ability can use them, but they clearly are not a consideration for one-story homes.

Bedrooms are necessarily all located on the main floor when it is a one-story dwelling. They may be split with the master suite (also called the owner's suite or owner's retreat) being on one side of the house and the secondary bedrooms and bathrooms being located apart from the master area - completely on the other side of the home or strategically located away from the master. In two-story construction, it is common for all of the bedrooms to be located on the second floor although increasingly at least one en-suite bedroom (if not the master itself) is being located on the main floor. Seniors are definitely requesting and looking for a first-floor master when they shop for a home or have theirs remodeled. Of course, the concept of a livable home includes a first-floor bedroom in addition to any that might be on additional floors.

Bedroom locations, stairs, and elevators and other vertical access can be considerations in multiple story homes or ones with basements, but for those single-level homes, they do not apply. 

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

"Universal Design Is A Thoughtful Approach But Doesn't Need To Be Expensive"

A question that many people - home builders, general contractors, consumers, and others - often ask about including universal design features in their building or remodeling projects is whether doing so is going to cost more than building in more traditional ways. They intuitively believe that it must cost more, or they have heard or read that it does.

There are so many variables that go into the construction of a home that the short answer as to whether including universal design features in a home compared to leaving them out is that it does not cost any more, and sometimes it can even save money.

It's a little like asking if it costs more to get a hamburger at fast food restaurant or a sit-down eatery. The basis of the meal (and arguably the cost of the items to prepare it) is the same - the hamburger and the trimmings - but the presentation, the experience, the expectations, and more set the two price points apart.

In building a custom home, the same thing happens which is one of the fallacies with using the square foot pricing method as a sales tool where the customer is told that the home is so many dollars a square foot. This provides a nice metric but only if the other homes being considered from other builders use exactly the same materials, brands, and components - no difference or variation. Otherwise, the numbers can't be compared except at a very superficial level.

A builder may include a basic front door or one substantially upgraded. The windows - while covering the same opening and letting in the same amount of light - can vary tremendously based on the materials they are constructed of and the brand. Door hardware, cabinetry, appliances, bath fixtures, flooring, lighting, and other components can vary by grade, style, color, model, finish, and brand - offering essentially the same feature but in many different ways. It's a matter of degree.

So, in terms of universal design features, a builder or contractor can design the home to incorporate many universal design concepts that are just part of the essential layout. Nothing special or extraordinary is being done. By using wider hallways (42"-45" versus 36"), bigger doorways (at least 36"), lower window sills, electrical outlets in many rooms that are located higher from the floor (18" in most living areas and even higher in areas where they are expected to be at a higher height such as in the kitchen backsplashes, next to or over the bathroom counter, and in the ends of bathroom vanity cabinets or kitchens islands and cabinets), and rocker light switches, nothing really has changed from normal construction except sizes and locations. In some cases, this is already being done anyway. Where the increased size costs a little bit more, it can be offset in other areas of the home, if desired, to balance the overall cost.

In other areas of the home such as replacing door handles on hinged doors with lever style (where this isn't already being done), using single lever kitchen faucets (likely already being done anyway), and installing cabinet pulls and handles that accommodate most people's hands and fingers (easily done), not much of a difference (if any) is going to be required from what already is being done.

There are many other features that fall under the heading of universal design, but not all of them need to be included in every home. Even though they generally are desirable, features such as elevators, skylights, or backup generators may be beyond the scope or budget of the client or intended buyer - and there are many price points in these items as well, depending on size, style, and brand.

Building with universal design is just good design. It doesn't have to cost more to include basic universal design features than to build a home without focusing on them, and in so many cases, items like rocker light switches and single-lever faucets are already universal design. In fact, customers would notice if they weren't included.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Monday, February 19, 2018

"Creating AIP Solutions Follows The Needs They Address"

Creating aging in place solutions is not something that we do to people or their homes, it's something we do with them and for them. Without an understanding of what they need to improve their lives in their homes, what they will accept, how best to go about it, and how they feel that our suggestions will help them, we are not going to present our case to them convincingly. It's not about us making a sale (although that has to happen for us to proceed in helping them), but it's about meeting and addressing their needs.

Without a full understanding of what someone's needs might be, we really can't suggest effective strategies for addressing them. Boilerplate suggestions that we use regardless of the situation just aren't appropriate for aging in place solutions. We must create a specific response for a specific need.

There may be designs that we recommend on a consistent basis because they apply to so many people and cut across a range of needs, but that doesn't mean we submit them blindly without regard for our client, their priorities, budget, or needs.

After we assess what our clients need, it's likely that improved lighting and flooring - especially the lighting - will be part of the design. What type of lighting, where it will be located, and what it needs to accomplish will be determined by our observations and assessment. While we are fairly confident that a lighting element will be part of our design because it is so important for the well-being of people we work with, we don't know how or to what extent it will be a factor until we evaluate and decide upon other components of the design. If there are other priorities higher than lighting, and the budget is very limited, it may get left off the list and not get addressed. This is unlikely, but this is how we approach an aging in place renovation.

In addition to lighting, accessibility, flooring, hardware, and other common needs that are typical improvements, we need to look at what our clients need and which of their requirements have the highest priority. We start there. If two items are tied for importance, and we can just do one of them, we look at which one is the most cost effective to conduct and which might last the longest. Hopefully, we can help our clients identify and find the funds to complete all of their high priority wish list.

Each client is going to be different for us and to express different needs from everyone else. Some are going to have more urgent needs than others. With some, our focus is going to be making their homes safer and more accessible/ With others, they are going to have medical concerns and physical requirements that need to be met. There is such a range of possible solutions to create that none will be identical to each other and all will be tailored specially to the needs of the individual client 

Once we understand how we can help our clients by addressing both the physical needs of their dwelling and their mobility and sensory needs to live their effectively, we can be to determine what needs to be done and in the proper order. Just because we like to do a particular type of improvement when facing a similar situation does not mean that this will be our conclusion each time. It still is dependent on interpreting the specific needs of the client and then creating a strategy for meeting them.

We must create our solutions based solely on client needs and not try to instill our will for their improvements irrespective of what they need and their budget. Doing so would be met with rejection by them and result in them not getting the help they require.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

"Creating AIP Solutions Is A Lot Like A Buffet Dining Experience"

We've probably all eaten at one of the many (national or local) "all-you-can-eat" buffet restaurants where we pay an entry fee for the meal then make as many trips as we like to the meats, salads, vegetables, breads, soups, desserts, and whatever else happens to be on display. Depending on how hungry we are and the appearance of the food, we may seriously overindulge.

This experience is not unlike what we face when we talk with someone about the aging in place improvements for their home. At the outset, there are a few parameters - budget, design objective, age and condition of the home, layout of the floor plan, and the physical needs and requirements of the occupants of the home. Each of these factors into the ultimate design, but there are many ways to consider and approach each of these segments.

If the client is more interested in aesthetics and how the design looks - with no major physical or medical concerns that need to be addressed in a design - that provides one direction for us to consider. If solving a very apparent physical condition (mobility, for instance), that can take us in another direction. There can be vision or hearing issues that need to be addressed. There are many possibilities for designs and solutions depending on so many factors. To even suggest that there are "standard" approaches is to miss the point of aging in place solutions which are tailored to each client's needs, abilities, physical size, budget, lifestyle, and other factors.

Each area of the home is up for consideration - entrance, hallways, bedrooms, kitchen, bathrooms, closets, and other living areas. Each area has multiple ways of addressing the client's concerns and needs. Some areas will need more immediate attention than others so we'll start filling up our plate with those issues and begin working our way through them.

In addressing the work that needs done, we also are going to be seeing mobility, sensory, and perhaps cognitive issues that need to be factored into any design considerations or approach. Then, within any of the areas that are going to be receiving help from us, there is a determination of just how much to do, in what order, and how they will relate to the overall budget.

Regardless of what work ultimately is selected, it's safe to figure that improved lighting is going to be part of any design. Even though there likely is some lighting in a space now - it's rare for there to be a complete absence of light fixtures - it's likely to be inadequate for the activities that need to be conducted safely in that area. Supplementing lighting with more fixtures, increased lumens, more appropriate color temperatures - and the elimination of shadows and glare - to enrich enjoyment and enhance safety, would be a great starting point for most remodeling projects.

Flooring is another important ingredient in a remodeling project to create safe and accessible environments. The style, color, pattern, type, and other details are partially at the discretion of the client (with our recommendation being offered), but flooring contributes to safe footing, balance, and other important aspects of living in the home over time.

There are many other aspects of the design that need to be chosen based on what needs to be addressed to meet the needs of the clients, their personal preferences, the amount of product within each category that can be selected, the general budget or funding sources available, and anything needed to bring the dwelling up to current code requirements.

Effective aging in place solutions require planning, the participation of several professionals to assist the client in translating their desires, needs, preferences, timing, and budget into a workable solution that appeals to them.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

"If We Look Hard Enough For An Excuse, We Can Find One"

It's funny how when we don't want to do something that we can find plenty of reasons for putting it off or not doing it. Maybe it's an invitation to a party or dinner that we feel we should go to but haven't really committed to attending. It could be something that we agreed to do but now have something more interesting or pleasant to do with that time slot. Of course, it could be writing a proposal, making a phone call, or sending an email when we talk ourselves into doing lots of other things but that one important or pressing task.

The point is that we can always find reasons not to do something if we look hard enough or get creative about a reason that would keep us from doing it. Sometimes it's just a stall to put off doing something that we really intend to do, but just not right now - later maybe. It could be an excuse we create or tell ourselves as to why something won't work or shouldn't be done. If we look hard enough - and sometimes not even all that hard - we can always find a reason to offer as to why we are putting off doing something that we were asked to do or that we initially thought might be helpful for our business or well-being.

We it comes to our aging in place business, we can find reasons for not doing something if we want, and our potential clients - the ones who really could benefit from what we have to offer - can as well.

Let's begin with us. We need to find solutions that we are comfortable in providing and then have enough confidence in our abilities and skills to approach potential clients and invite them to let us help. It's easy to talk ourselves out of that initial contact by thinking that someone would not be interested in what we have to offer, that they are managing fine on their own, that they wouldn't want to consider any improvements, or that they wouldn't have the money for such work or wouldn't want to spend what it would take to create a solution such as we offer.

Such thinking does a disservice to both us and the people we want to serve. If we really do lack confidence in what we can provide, we need to find it - quickly. It's alright if we can't provide all of the answers or solutions on our own - that's we have plenty of strategic partners (other professionals and members of the trades) that we can call upon to assist us in providing a collaborative effort for our clients. If we really doubt the extent of what we can provide, we need to hone in out what we are good at doing or begin to expand that scope to where we have a comfort level in providing what the market needs and what we feel good about doing.

As for our clients, they easily can talk themselves into waiting on a solution. Some of them have been getting by with what they have for several years. Those with specific needs or progressive conditions likely have a higher sense of urgency because they need answers. Still. people are quite adaptable and can find homemade solutions or hacks (workarounds) to accommodate their abilities and getting around within their homes.

It's not hard for people to find excuses or stalls - money, the inconvenience or dust associated with a remodel, having strange people in their home, and accepting something new, for example. This is understandable but not getting the help they need is not. We have an obligation to contact people we think we can help and engage as many of them as possible. We must look past any weaknesses that we think we have and strengthen them while finding top-notch strategic partners to assist us in delivering our solutions.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Friday, February 16, 2018

"There Is Power In Assembling A Delivery Team For Our AIP Services"

The great thing about putting together a team to help create and enact aging in place solutions for our clients is that we don't have to go it alone and we can rely on the collective talents and abilities of other professionals to offer the best outcomes for our clients. We don't need to rely on just our own abilities and bring a much wider scope of talent to the job. We can seek out, attract, and enlist the help of other capable individuals and providers. Our clients receive the best solutions possible from our team.

Sometimes we might be able to do a home assessment or a simple repair or installation (depending on the nature of our business and what we typically offer) without assistance, but often there are going to be areas that we want or need to be involved in where we simply are not qualified or licensed to do the work the clients require. Therefore, we necessarily need to ask for and get help in the form of some type of collaboration and strategic partnership.

On our own, we might be able to find the job and get the process started with a client, but more than likely, we are going to need help finishing it from some of our professional colleagues and strategic partners. Creating a strategic alliance with remodelers, occupational or physical therapists, interior designers, kitchen and bath designers, durable medical equipment consultants, equipment specialists, architects or building designers, assistive technology professionals, and others advisors - anything that we are not trained or licensed to provide on our own - is an effective way to maximize market reach, extend solution delivery, and create effectiveness. In fact, it's the best way to sell, design, and deliver our aging in place services and solutions.

Strategic partners or alliances are temporary bonds that we form with other professionals and the trades for a particular project or type of service that we want to offer. We create them between ourselves and two or more other independent providers or companies - for a single job or on a more continuous basis. This way each one complements the services and expertise of the other, and the client is the beneficiary. With aging in place services, these bonds can be more long-term as long as all of the participants are happy with the other's performance and abilities.

We can add and combine as many collaborators and strategic partners as necessary for a project, and the number of individual participants can adjust up or down by the specific project - depending on where it is, what it entails, the size and scope of the job, and what needs to be provided by various team members to make it a successful venture. Generally, having more than one provider in any given role is a good idea to accommodate people being busy or distances that are too far away for convenient travel.

The important part of assembling a team is always to be looking for individuals or companies that we can partner with - just once for something unusual or special,  or on an on-going basis as part of what we offer with our business model - to broaden what we provide the marketplace and make our services more valuable and complete.

The strategic partnerships or alliances exist on a project-by-project basis and do not bind or align the companies to each other except through the terms of the working agreement they create for specific projects and the mutual satisfaction of collaborating to achieve great results - ones that can only be derived from a collective effort. Otherwise, everyone is free to pursue business on their own or with other strategic partners. Nevertheless, this creates a very effective delivery system that serves all of the participants and especially the client base quite well.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

"It's Only Right That We Should Help People Remain In Their Homes"

"Home" is such a great concept. It evokes such great emotions in people. They long for their home when they are away from it - for a few hours or several days. They think of ways to spend more time enjoying it and dream of ways to make their home even more appealing to them than it already is. This is how we can help them.

For starters, helping people remain in their homes is key to their long-term happiness. We know that many people regard their home as an old friend - regardless of the age of the home, how long they have lived in it, or what type of work it might need to retain or regain its vitality. Working with them to maintain that relationship with their home is important to them and to us.

That home represents so many memories to them of life events that have transpired within their home and in their lives while living there - along with the collective experience before they arrived and began living in that home. This includes growing up, attending school, finding their first home or apartment, the home or homes (or apartments) they may have lived in prior to this one, raising a family, and possibly having other family members such as siblings or parents live with them at various times.

As the years pass, people become very attached to living in the home they are in. They don't welcome the thought of trying to replace that home or having to move from it. We can and do provide answers and solutions to help them accomplish their aim of remaining where they are long-term.

No matter the physical condition of the home that people have presently, or any deficiencies or shortcomings it might have in meeting or accommodating their physical needs (for owners or renters), we know that people want to hang onto and remain living in their present homes for the foreseeable future.

There are several reasons why people choose to remain in their homes, and any one of them is sufficient for us to begin helping them enjoy a safer, more comfortable, more convenient, and more secure home.

People that we help can be of any age or ability. They have just decided - for one or more reasons - that they want to remain living in their current home. We have the ability to improve that home to make it as functional and as serviceable (and more visitable as well) as their needs and budget prescribe.

This is why we like helping people age in place. It allows us to work with those who want to remain in their homes and provides a real service for people to get additional functional use out of a home that may seem to have reached the end of its useful life for them but has plenty of opportunities to provide an effective living space for them in the years to come.

People may find that the space they have is too small for their current needs, that it's not configured appropriately for them to move about easily, that the doorways or hallways are not wide enough, that they don't feel secure in standing or moving about in their space, that the appliances or bath fixtures don't function well for them or are difficult to use, that there is not enough storage space or that they have too much stuff for the space they have, that they can't climb stairs or enter their home as easily as they could before, find that there are several other issues that need to be addressed to make their homes serve them better.

While budgetary constraints may limit the amount of work that can be done, there are many recommendations and actual solutions that can be implemented to assist people to stay living in their homes. We can be the change agents people need.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.