Wednesday, July 19, 2017

"Be Careful Not To Expect Your 'CAPS' Designation To Do More Than Intended"

People take the CAPS certification program for a variety of reasons. Some want to enhance the skills they already possess. Some want to add a set of impressive initials after their name - whether this is the first such designation they have earned or one of many. Some want to branch out into a new career. Some want to grow their existing business in this direction. There are additional reasons for taking and seeking the CAPS designation as well.

Getting your CAPS designation is a great way to prepare for serving people in their homes in a variety of settings and across the spectrum of ages and abilities, yet sometimes the CAPS is viewed as being able to do more than it really is designed to do.

The CAPS training provides a wealth of insights and understanding about how to work with people who have no visible impairments other than normal aging concerns who want to remain in their homes as they grow older, those people of any age who are living with progressive conditions, and those of any age who have a traumatic condition.

It helps us appreciate what people are experiencing as they go through life and what they might need their home to provide for them. We focus on safety aspects of navigating the home, including the flooring and the lighting. It's important that doorways and interior passageways be wide enough for anyone (residents, visitors, neighbors, or infrequent guests) to use, whether walking or use a walker or wheelchair. We want storage areas to be accessible with easy to open doors or drawers and shelves or bins at usable heights.

It's important that the other aspects of a home be conveniently located, comfortable to use, and functional for those living in the home or visiting it. This includes controls and switches, faucets, bath fixtures, appliances, furniture, cabinetry, windows, mirrors, and the remaining areas of a home.

There should be no concern from a safety, comfort, convenience, or accessibility aspect that anything within the home can be used by anyone in the home. Our CAPS training gives us the requisite background to know what to look for and how to offer prescriptive changes and improvements. 

However, our CAPS training does not provide a glossary of solutions that we can reference and apply. Rather, we learn about guidelines and best practices - things that we want to consider using when there is a need that can be met or alleviated through such an application. Because each home is different and the needs of the occupants are going to vary according to age, physical size ability, general health, personal preferences, and other characteristics, it is not possible to go home from the CAPS courses with a set of solutions that can be applied in any situation.

Expecting otherwise is underestimating the two main variables in aging in place solutions - neither of which is going to be consistent. These are the residents or occupants of the home itself - renters or owners, as well as anyone who happens to be in the home at any time as an invited guest or someone who came as a visitor - and the home or structure itself.

We know how to evaluate what we observe and how to create strategic relationships to help us create and deliver solutions. When don't need to be able to provide everything ourselves, and it is unlikely that any of us will ever provide solutions for people with involving others to help us. Our CAPS training gives us the ability and flexibility to design and create many possible solutions for our clients. It should not be viewed as a rigid template that can be applied from house-to-house. That was never the intent.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master 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.