Sunday, September 24, 2017

"The 'People' Element In Aging In Place Solutions"

One of the significant challenges of creating aging in place solutions is that we are working with people – in their homes. This also is one of the great rewards. 

We are not creating - and we really can't by definition - any aging in place solutions without working with people. Our creative work is for them and no one else - on a case-by-case, individualized basis.

This is so much different than producing a product in a manufacturing or assembly facility and then delivering or installing it, or in doing new construction before the client occupies the space. While some of this might apply to aging in place renovation as well – installation of a premade product or construction of new space – the major difference is the presence of the client.

This business is not for everyone because of the personal contact element. As I have said many times, the client enjoys home field advantage and is always present (or someone else who is representing their interests).

Obviously, people are different – in physical size, in educational attainment, in the type of work they pursue, in the size of their families, whether they marry or not, where they like to live (urban, suburban, rural, coastal, mountains, and several other possibilities), what they enjoy doing in their leisure time, what they read, how they vote, colors and styles they like, and so many other variables. This means that no two dwellings are going to be exactly the same.

As far as aging is concerned, people are different there as well. Some have immediate and visible needs. Some have relatively few requirements. Some people begin dealing with such issues at a very early age. There is no one type of client.

Taken together, such issues and diversity make aging in place a very complex field. Each client or potential client varies from the previous one – even those living on the same street, next door to each other, or even in the same family.

Understanding that people age differently, that they have various needs and interests, that their physical requirements can be quite varied, and that their willingness or interest level in having people like us help them to achieve safer and more efficient living spaces, help us fashion appropriate approaches to working with them.

We may find that we want to create a team approach for addressing their issues. While each of us as aging in place professionals can address a certain aspect of their homes, how people relate to those dwellings, and how well those spaces meet their needs, we can often be more effective and successful in serving the needs of our clients by teaming up and providing a collaborative approach.

Our aging in place services differ from so many other businesses with respect to how we engage and interact with the consumer. In retail, the customer or consumer walks into an establishment and receives some help (sometimes). Then the customer leaves with a purchase or leaves without buying anything. They aren't there officially to observe how the store is addressing their needs. When we enter their home - their place of residence, their sanctuary, their refuge - they very much are looking out for their best interests and are watching what we do constantly. They may comment frequently or save it up, but they are watching and noticing what is happening.

We must not forget, overlook, or fail to factor into the equation the role of the client, their family, and other influencers are going to have in selecting us, agreeing to our suggestions, watching the work performed, and deciding that we met their needs with our approach.

We are in the people business before we are in the solutions or aging in place business.



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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place 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.