Saturday, April 16, 2016

"There's A Reason That Our 'Best Practices' Are Called By That Name"

When we design a project for our clients to provide aging-in-place solutions for them - as occupational or physical therapists, designers, remodeling contractors, or other types of professionals or consultants - we may have several different objectives in mind. There may be a safety issue that primarily is driving the proposed renovations.

Safety takes on many forms from the condition of the living environment, the way the flooring, fixtures, and other components in the home are wearing and failing to provide good service to the occupants, the lack of lighting fixtures or the poor placement of them that contributes to poorly lit and unsafe areas, and the accumulation of storage items and general household goods (including clothing) that are not properly put away or removed from passageways.

It might be that in addition to safety, there are issues with how conveniently located or easy-to-use various aspects of the home are such as electrical outlets, wall switches, windows, doors, locks, cabinetry, faucets, thermostats, and similar controls and switches.

There might be conditions present dealing with the flooring surface or the transition from one flooring surface in the home to another (such as between carpeting and tile or hardwood). It could be ventilation and air flow. It could be the way the internal space is laid out and how that inhibits access between rooms or from one part of the home to another. Maybe there is not sufficient space in the home to accommodate the desired activities, or it needs to be configured in a different way.

Over the years, as physical needs for the adults in the home have changed or as children have grown and left home - or even as elderly parents have moved in with the household occupants - there are various demands on the living space that may not have been originally necessary or envisioned. Therefore, modifications are required.

Regardless of what we discover and what we recommend as changes in the home - and what the clients agree to as acceptable solution for themselves that they both desire and can pay for - we use our skills, knowledge, and abilities to create and build the best solution possible to address what they need. While similar solutions may have been created by us for other individuals and other home environments, each solution is uniquely based on the needs of the individual clients, the characteristics of their home, what they are trying to achieve in a home modification, and the budget.

We have an obligation to our clients to use the best methods of design and construction that we can - and to use the best materials available at the quality and price point necessary to achieve the desired result. We also are interested in sustainability (so that the products we install and the workmanship of our construction will last over time) and durability (that items are going to remain serviceable and not fail).

We are to use our best practices in the original assessment, design, specification of materials, and construction and execution of the solution. They are our best practices - the most efficient, effective, and professional way of approaching the work that we do. They are not called "pretty good," "better," "average," or "above average" practices. They are called best practices because they represent our best efforts.

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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.