Sunday, April 15, 2018

"Our CAPS Credentials Are Powerful, But We Still Have To Connect With Our Clients"

Most every industry or area of specialization has a designation, certification, or other educational programs through which they award a title of competency, represented by a series of initials that a person uses after their name to signify that they have completed the training or qualified for the designation.

That's what those of us who have earned the Certified Aging In Place Specialist - CAPS - designation are doing. We are telling the world - at least those in our sphere of contact - that we have completed specialized training to work with and help people remain safely in their homes as they continue to live in them long-term. Moreover, the CAPS certification is a little different than other designations and programs in the realm of public opinion, acceptance, and recognition.

There are dozens of certifications and training programs that a professional in real estate, construction, sales, healthcare, non-profits, or aging in place (among others) can strive for and attain. Many of them, while important and meaningful, aren't immediately recognizable by the public until they have a need to engage someone with those credentials. With the CAPS, there are a minimum of eight national professional organizations (NAHB, AARP, AIA, AOTA, APTA, AIBD, NKBA, ASID) that encourage their members to attain the CAPS certification, offer continuing education credits for coursework, and promote the designation and training to their members, and by extension, members' families, clients, associates, and friends.

This is why having the CAPS is beneficial and why so many consumers are aware of what CAPS training is - perhaps not the exact definition of it and what is required to earn it but knowing that it is something they want in a person who helps them create a solution to allow them to continue living in the home that they love. We are seeing more instances of consumers looking for and requesting CAPS trained professionals to work with them in their homes to help solve their issues.

When homeowners want someone to look at their home and help it become safer, more accessible, more functional, and just a more enjoyable place for them to remain, they begin - to the extent they can locate one in their area - by reaching out to a CAPS trained professional.

Similarly, property managers, case managers, social workers, attorneys, claims adjusters, social service agencies, and anyone else who works with people in their homes to modify, renovate, repair, or remediate them would welcome a CAPS professional to assist them in such endeavors.

As strong as the Certified Aging In Place Specialist (CAPS) designation is in preparing us to enter people's homes, meet with them, look at the physical condition and parameters of their homes, evaluate their own functional needs, and suggest a renovation program (within their budget), we have to make sure that the people we are meeting and preparing to work with understand the value, tools, and experience we bring to them. 

CAPS must be more than just a set of letters or initials next to our name. It has to connect with the consumer, or the strategic partner or referring professional we want to work with, in such a way as to let them know that we have the training, knowledge, experience, resources, and network to serve them in a way that non-CAPS professional are not prepared to do.

Consumers are requesting CAPS trained people to help them. For those who aren't, we owe it to them to make sure they understand the value we bring to their particular situation and that we can make sure their money is well-invested in the project we recommend and complete for them. We must make our training relevant to the consumer.

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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.