Thursday, April 6, 2017

"It's A Good Thing There Are No Standard Solutions For AIP Projects"

People often look for easy ways to accomplish things - and why not? Why borrow trouble if there is a simple way to get something done? If we can use a standardized or commonly accepted approach for something, this would seem to be the prudent and expedient thing to do.

In terms of aging in place solutions, there seems to be a prevailing mindset that there are a finite number of solutions that already exist that that people can learn and use. Fortunately, this is not true - and we wouldn't want it to be anyway. This would take away our ability to understand a client's needs and to create something specifically for them - one-at-a-time, on a case-by-case basis.

If modifying a bathroom, kitchen, entry door, front porch, driveway, deck, hallway, or other part of the home was simply a matter of referring to a printed template, checklist, or schedule and following it, there would be a lot less work for remodelers and handymen. Many people could do the work themselves. Also, the price would be considerably lower than what typically is the case because the thought and analysis factor that goes into conceptualizing the designs would not be necessary.

There simply is not a standardized approach to creating aging in place renovations - as much as some people might want that to exist or expect that it would. Again, be happy that this is the case.

We meet with potential clients, who range in age from 20s to 90s with and without physical, sensory, or cognitive limitations or conditions, and determine what they need to have done in their homes or apartments to make their lives easier and more enjoyable. We ask questions, we observe, we analyze, we suggest, and we create. We offer a potential solution - possibly more than one - that accomplishes what we deem to be necessary and meets the anticipated or expressed budget of the client.

It may take more than one iteration of the design before finalizing it and preparing to execute it. What is clear is that there are never going to be two identical solutions offered. There may be similarities in terms of the client's needs, their budget, the physical condition of the home (style, layout, age, and condition), and the time frame in which to complete the project, but that's it - similarities. Since no two people are exactly the same in terms of their needs, abilities, preferences, or outlook on life, and since no two dwellings are precisely the same, there can be no boilerplate solutions - only similar ones for similar needs.

Because there is no uniform solution to every aging in place solution, we should not be surprised that there cannot be found a publication - in print or online - that shows all of the common aging in place solutions. Even if we allow for commonly used modification elements, not every home that needs them will get them because the client does not want them or cannot afford to have them. Some people will get a minimal treatment and others will get more extensive renovations.

Let's be thankful that people rely on us and our expertise to determine what they need and to devise a plan specifically for them on a customized basis. While it may resemble work that we have done before or will do in the future in a similar setting, it won't be exactly the same, and it won't follow any standardized design protocol other than being the best we can provide for what the client needs and wants and within the codes.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, 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. Also check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.