Thursday, February 8, 2018

"Elderly Clients Need Be Be Reassured That We Respect Them & Their Property"

One of the challenges that we face in doing home assessments, renovations, and remodeling for aging in place solutions with older clients is their concern for their personal safety in having strangers in their home. We need to be aware of this and be prepared to meet this challenge head-on. Even before our initial meeting with them, if we should talk with them over the phone, we need to bring up our understanding of their concern and reassure them that we have taken extra steps to help them feel comfortable with the remodeling process - regardless of how extensive it might be.

We want them to know that we appreciate that this is something they may have concerns about and that we want them to enjoy the experience and not be anxious about it. We shouldn't wait for them to mention it - bringing it up ourselves shows that we are conscious of their feelings and emotions.

Whether the proposed work is a few hours or several days, our clients (homeowners or renters) need to feel that they are going to be safe in their residence with several strangers being present at various times. They rightly will have concerns for their personal safety and for their property. It's possible they have never had this type of work done in their home and that at most an appliance or air conditioner service call has been the extent of having strangers in their home with them.

These concerns are valid and are accentuated for older people and for singles of any age. They may have apprehensions about having the work done for these reasons even though they want or need it to be accomplished. They may look forward to what they perceive will be the finished product, but in the meantime, they will have several different trades in their home. While the work is being done, there will be a certain amount of dust, demolition, and disruption of their daily routines. Seeing their walls, cabinets, flooring, or other items being removed could be a little shocking for them if they aren't emotionally prepared to see it happen.

Unless the clients are going to be absent while the work is being done - and this is extremely unlikely due to their concern about the safety of their personal property (furniture, artwork, jewelry, cash, mementos, and the like) in terms of it being damaged or taken - they are going to be watching the work transpire. They may not be in the actual construction zone, but they are going to see and know generally what is happening. They will have a schedule or outline of the workflow also.

We should begin - before even selling the job - by specifically reassuring them that we are aware of their concerns about having strangers in their home and that we understand how they may feel uncomfortable about that. We need to convey to them that their feelings are normal and that we have undertaken a series of measures to help put them at ease. We must sell them first on trusting us and gaining their confidence that we are concerned for their safety and well-being as much as they are.

Then we can share with them how we pick the crews that we use, how we or someone we designate will be present at all times during the job, and how we have instructed everyone associated with their project on how we expect them to conduct themselves in the client's home. We can even furnish photos and website addresses of the teams we will be using in advance of the job commencing.

People rightly are concerned for their safety, and we must address this concern before the job is ever sold. Failing to do so would be a major mistake that we need to avoid if we want to win their business, have a successful outcome, and receive their endorsement for future clients.

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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.