Monday, July 31, 2017

"Our AIP Clients Enjoy Home Field Advantage"

For anyone who follows sports at any level, we know the importance of home field advantage. As players, we are used to playing in front of a sympathetic crowd (usually), sleeping at home the night before the game, not needing to travel the day of the game or the day before it, and knowing how the field or court plays. We know the little tricks of how the ball bounces in certain areas, how the air currents affect the movement of the ball, how the crowd noises can affect the visiting team (and boost us), and other little quirks that make playing at home the "advantage" that it is known to be.

Teams are supposed to do well and play well at home. Their won-loss record should reflect a winning percentage at home. Playing at home is desirable, but only about half the games or contests in any season are home events. The rest are played at someone else's home court or field - and then they get the accrued benefits of a home field advantage.

So, what does this discussion of home field advantage have to do with our aging in place renovations? Plenty. Our clients enjoy home field advantage, and we must go into every job with this understanding.

We are the visiting team. It's their home, their money (or money being spent for them on their behalf), and their solution we are creating. We must constantly be aware that we are working in "hostile" territory rather than on our own turf. It's their game.

Regardless of what the renovation is, and regardless of how many days the project might take, they are in control of the venue, It belongs to them.

When we arrive, it's their home. While we are there - for how many days that might be - it's their home. When we leave it's still their home. Nowhere does it say we are doing this on our own field, for our audience, or for our private outcome. In fact, just the opposite is true. 

Everything we do it the client's home comes under their watchful eye. When materials are delivered, when scrap materials are set aside or discarded, when existing surfaces or materials are removed, and when the reconstruction begins, they are observing. It's not just when we are finished but at every stage in the process - if they are present. For older clients, there is a good likelihood that they would be present. It would be asking a lot for them to go to a hotel of someone else's home while repairs or renovations were done in their home. Even if it would be safer for them in terms of dust or inconvenience, they quite likely would want to retain their home court advantage and remain home to observe what was going on in their home.

Therefore, they are going to be overseeing the work going on in their home, asking questions, and inspecting the work at night to see what was and wasn't done - to their satisfaction or comfort level. This is very natural. We are going to leave after a few days when the project is completed. They are going to continue living there. They need to have an extreme comfort level with what is being done and why. If they don't understand something, it's right that they should ask about it.

As long as we continue to provide aging in place solutions for our clients - in their homes - they are going to retain home field advantage. We are always going to be the visitors. That doesn't affect us as people. It just helps frame our perspective that this is their property and they have every right to take a personal interest in what we are doing. We should welcome their oversight and participation - even if it does slow us down a little. We also need to be mindful of leaving out materials, tools, and unfinished work where it can get in the way of their living in and using the home during the times we are not present. It;s still their home for them to live in and not a true construction site that no one is occupying during the work.

Here's hoping the home team wins every game!

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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.