Saturday, July 2, 2016

"Priorities Are As Different As The People They Are For"

We talk about priorities and the need to prioritize what needs to be done when suggesting and then getting ready to make aging-in-place improvements. Not everything that needs to be done in one home has the same level of importance or urgency. Some are of a more critical nature and some are farther down on the scale.

Similarly, what needs to be in one home may already be fine in another. In one one, something may be quite serious and require immediate attention, while in another the same area of the home or the same item might rate less urgency.

Everything needs to be individually assessed and then acted upon in that same spirit of individuality.

If we applied wholesale, cookie-cutter changes across a wide spectrum of homes, clients, and needs, we would be doing a large disservice to people who depend on what we provide and failing to help people when and where they need it most.

Some people need ti have a kitchen remodel or renovation, but those are as varied and different as the homes themselves. There are different sizes and arrangements of cabinets - upper (wall) and lower (base). These may have a relative high priority due to the importance of the kitchen as a center of activity in the home or because of the value placed on it by the clients.

In the kitchen, there is lighting, flooring, door and drawer hardware, faucets, sinks, countertops. islands, appliances, and other features. Some of these might be quite important to a client, and others are less important. As solution providers, some might have more significance to us than others. Again, it's a matter of priorities - determining which items have more urgency than others.

In terms of the physical needs of the clients, the physical characteristics and layout of the home, the age and condition of the home, how long renovations need to be appropriate, and how well the client moves about in the space are all considerations that have a bearing on deciding where to begin and where things can left as they are.

Just as the kitchen has many areas that can be evaluated for deciding which need improvement, which don't and which have higher priorities or more urgency than others, the same is true in the bathroom, hallway, front entrance, and the various other areas of the home. If it is a multi-story home, or one with a basement, stairs also are a major area to be considered.

So, it is a matter of looking at each home by itself - not by comparing it or including it with others (even adjacent ones or those built by the same company or at approximately the same time) - for what it represents to its occupants and then looking at how each person lives in their home and how it serves or provides challenges to their accessibility, safety, comfort, and convenience.

That is how priorities are established and jobs are estimated and bid. When someone needs a variety of services and improvements in their home to satisfy issues or deficiencies that have been observed - but they don't have the ability to pay for all of the work that should be done or really needs to be done, priorities help determine what gets done first, second, and so forth. Maybe some of the work will have to wait until a later time, and perhaps additional funding sources can be identified.

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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.