Unlike a typical remodeling or renovation project where a person has plenty of time to make a decision, discretionary income to spend on the project, and the flexibility to make the project larger or smaller than they originally contemplated, aging in place solutions are much more well-defined.
When someone wants a kitchen update because they are tired of their present layout, want updated cabinets or flooring, want newer appliances, would like the latest technology or other solutions that they have seen online, heard about, or watched on a TV makeover show, or they want to enhance the appeal of their kitchen prior to getting ready to sell their home, they can be very picky about interviewing contractors, getting bids, asking for concessions, and taking their time to make a decision.
Contrast this with someone needing a specific treatment for a specific condition. They may know what they need and then shop for someone to deliver it for them. They more likely will ask someone they trust - a friend, neighbor, doctor, OT, caregiver, social worker, or specialist - whom they would recommend or who they know that can do what they would like done. They may check with a local senior services agency or support group (depending on what type of mobility or sensory issue they are facing)
They are picky about getting the results they need and choosing someone who understands them - rather than shopping just for the best price. What they have installed will impact the quality of their life so this is an important decision for them. They will be getting a ramp, lift, grab bar, roll-under cabinet, curbless shower, or other home modification because their physical condition requires or depends on it being done. It's elective to a point - they can choose what it looks like and who does it - but it's more of a requirement that they get this done.
Someone needing an aging in place improvement or modification in their home will likely get to a CAPS professional during the process of selecting someone to do the work. They may even start there. This already limits the number of potential contractors for their proposed task.
When we work with a healthcare professional, a rehab center, a home health agency, or any other type of referring professional, they likely will already have the relationship, trust, and confidence with the person requiring or needing the work done in their home. Rather than interviewing several people or getting the customary three bids, the client will ask the referring professional who they should use and be given a name - our name - as the one to begin the discussion. If all goes well from there, the job is agreed to and completed - no bids, no shopping for prices or someone else to come in behind us and do the job for less, and no procrastinating on making a decision. We were recommended to do the job, and we meet with the client on those terms. As long as they like us, we like them, and the scope of the job is reasonable for us, we can proceed.
Working this way is much different than competing at large for remodeling projects where price, styling, colors, and other factors can mean a delay in making a decision or in losing a quote to someone who will do the job for less.
Relationships where the client is already sold on us and our abilities before we ever meet them because of how we were introduced and recommended to them beats bidding on projects that we may well lose.
Steve Hoffacker, CAPS, 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.