Monday, February 8, 2016

"Think Of 'Where's Waldo?' When Doing Safety Assessments"

In the wildly entertaining and sometimes exasperating picture books of searching for Waldo hiding out among the many shapes, colors, and activities on the pages of "Where's Waldo?" there is an illustrative lesson here in how to approach our safety assessments for successful aging-in-place for out clients.

Whether you offer standalone assessments, audits, or evaluations, or they are part of a more comprehensive approach for determining your job scope and potential aging-in-place solutions, we know how important client safety is.

Often, things aren't what they seem - just like in Waldo's adventures. We can look at a photo of a room layout or experience a home in person and what appears to be well-done, attractive, or beyond critique may not hold up to closer scrutiny. Sometimes there are several issues hidden beyond the pretty initial impression. Sometimes there are just a few minor details.

So, we approach a safety assessment from a much more clinical standpoint where we are looking for clues or signs that something exists in a way that is potentially not safe for our clients or anyone that they might have visiting them.

It's not always on the inside either. There are plenty of places on the exterior of a home that can present safety challenges and issues - driveways, walks, steps, stoops, yards, decks, patios, and more.

Once inside, look at doorways, hallways, seating areas, flooring, lighting, cabinets, and shelves - for starters. Take a good hard look in the bathrooms and kitchen. Look at items in the home that may be reflecting light (natural or artificial) in a harsh way and thereby creating strong glare. Also, look for patterns in upholstery, wall covering, window covering, flooring, or accessories that may be busy or confusing to the eye where combined with other furnishings or colors in the room.

There are no shortage of places to look for potential hazards in a home. Some will be obvious, while others will be more subtle or hidden from immediate view or detection - think Waldo.

Since safety has such a bearing on the well-being of our clients, regardless of what type of modification we might suggest or create, we need to focus on it before anything else is done or recommended.


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Steve HoffackerCAPS, MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.