Caps Connection - August 9, 2005 (Print All Articles)
Making Your Whole Business Aging-in-Place
Could you build your entire business model only on the aging in place population?
Aging in place is clearly a growing trend in the country. But could you build your entire business model only on the aging in place population? For the past two years, David Dickinson, CAPS of In Your Home of Portland, Ore. has.
David and his partner formed In Your Home to work solely with aging adults and their immediate family (for situations when an aging adult moves in with other family members). But all of their work isn’t simply modifying bathrooms or kitchens.
“We started specifically to address the aging in place need and do more than just straight forward remodeling,” said David. Specifically, he also offers minor repair and maintenance as well as larger remodeling projects.
“In our experience when the health of one spouse declines — especially the man — ongoing household upkeep becomes a problem. When seniors sell they get less than their money’s worth because they couldn’t maintain the house and small problems become large ones, like roof issues,” he continued.
Dealing specifically with this population isn’t without challenges that many remodelers face on selling aging in place remodeling projects. While most older adults want to age in place, only a small percentage proactively seek out home modifications while they are healthy. Marketing is a challenge.
“Beyond traditional advertising we speak at fraternal organizations and offer talks on aging,” said David. “Another thing we do is buy homes in 55-plus communities and re-do it with a current century view on aging in place requirements.”
In Your Home recently finished a home that now has two accessible entrances, graded the lighting, a rehabbed bathroom with low threshold shower among other improvements. “We make it like a new house. People like the idea that’s already done and ready for them,” said David. “Clearly conveying that it’s ok to think about these things, it’s wise to think about these things and planning for the future doesn’t mean turning your home into a nursing home.”
He is also working with other aging in place services, such as insurance, estate planners, and home health providers so they know that there are people like himself who can also offer aging in place solutions. He strongly recommends getting into that network.
Once In Your Home has a new client, dealing specifically with the older population brings about many of its own challenges. “Educating the client is key,” said David. “We often get, ‘Oh I don’t need that.’ When really, it’s something they should have.”
Sensitivity and client relations are especially important. “If you’re the kind of person who’s easily frustrated by demanding clients or not good at customer care, it’s probably not the right niche,” said David. “There’s an above average amount of handholding. Sometimes you need to make decisions for them.”
And while he doesn’t recommend this work for every remodeler, the growing need for aging in place solutions is can be healthy part of your business — if not your whole business.
Sweat the Details
I’m reminded all too often to keep things simple. Our business lives are full of details, specifications, numbers and more information via the Internet than we could ever imagine being able to read, let alone process. Yet most mentors and business advisors would counsel us to pay attention to the key items or tasks in any assignment rather than micromanage the minutiae. That may well be sound business advice but take that suggestion to heart carefully when you are dealing with the new CAPS opportunities we are enjoying. It seems to me that success with a CAPS installation is dealing with the specifics and the details.
I relayed to you in my last column that you are sooner or later bound to run into an emotional roller coaster with an aging in place client and his or her “influencers.” As I noted, it can be trying to not only orchestrate the project particulars but also be called upon to counsel, assist or negotiate sensitive issues relative to the occupant requiring the improvement. In that situation it’s hard not to become emotionally attached to the individual and their family, however as a professional you must remember they are looking to you for advice and direction as well as a steady, determined approach to satisfactorily complete the job.
Getting better at CAPS installation means constantly evaluating how you are doing as a designer of CAPS projects. How well you do to adequately serve the needs of your next client is firmly based on knowledge of what works for certain individuals and what makes no sense to include in the job scope for others. In order to better serve your clientele wouldn’t it make sense to conduct thorough research on how well you are doing in your CAPS design and implementation? I just recently did this with a friend of the family who has been living in one of our more extensive projects for seven months now. Let me tell you briefly what I learned and what a great experience it was for me to have our work critiqued by this fellow who found himself a quadriplegic at age 69 as the result of a fall last summer.
Upon my inquiry he presented me with a list of what was good, what was OK and a bigger list of what he would have liked to see in his new home. Some specifics included items that make perfect sense — only if you have round-the-clock care by numerous caregivers. By this I mean there were things none of us thought about as we rushed to complete this extensive addition so he could come home from the rehab center as soon as possible.
Let me illustrate with a few examples. He expressed to me his daily frustration with the positioning of the light switches and what they controlled. It seems that every caregiver is constantly asking him what switch does what and he told me he gets exhausted by telling everyone what switch controls what fixture. He noted that the closet light problem could have been avoided by simply installing a jamb switch instead of what he called a fancy rocker switch outside the door. Makes perfect sense!
Another example was that he was getting tired of always thinking about my company when he traveled over a threshold on the floor that just barely meets the maximum height suggested between differing floor surfaces. In his mind the bump and rocking it causes is a constant reminder that he isn’t able to simply step into the other room without realizing he’s actually tied to his chair.
You probably get my point in these two examples. We can most likely do a much better job with our CAPS projects if we devise ways to ride in another man’s chair for a while instead of walking around in our shoes thinking we have all the secrets figured out. Ask and you’ll find out quickly that everyone has a different perspective on what works and how well it works for him or her in particular. Once you obtain this special knowledge, use it to your advantage to do even a better job next time marrying your client’s needs with their new living space.
Confined to a Wheelchair Bathroom Case Study
Larry Murr, CGR, CAPS of Lawrence Murr Remodeling in Jacksonville, Fla. offers a case study for a successful bathroom remodel.
Client: A middle-age woman suffered a brain aneurism that caused some paralysis on the right side of the body as well as speech difficulties and other physical changes. She only has strength on the left side and needs support when walking or standing. At other times, she uses a wheelchair.
The owners moved from their previous home to a smaller, easier to access home in a nearby subdivision. Since her illness, she had not been able to bathe herself due to the bath arrangements, getting assistance from her husband.
We had known one another through Boy Scouts, where her husband and I served as troop leaders; so I was not uncomfortable talking with her. Although her speech and language skills had been detrimentally affected by her illness, she was still able to communicate to us what she wanted in her bathroom.
I feel that the information that I had gotten through my CAPS training was especially helpful in this situation, as it provided me not only with the knowledge of what to do, but also how to ask the client the right questions concerning her abilities. Questions concerning her physical abilities: "Is one side stronger then the other?" "Can you stand up and shower or would you prefer to sit?" "Will you be using your wheelchair in the shower?" "Are you sensitive to heat and/or cold?" etc.
Getting the answers back from these questions helped us in developing our design.
Scope of Work: The bathroom was already a fairly large one, with a 2'8" entry door. The client wanted the vanity to stay in place, so renovation or adjustments were done to that. Except for installing a larger door, no alterations were made to the walk in closet. There was a large soaking tub, separate toilet area, and a shower. The ceiling was vaulted.
We rearranged the above three areas (as you will be able to see from the pictures) in order to be able to build a large walk in or roll in shower. The tub was completely eliminated, the toilet moved to the opposite wall — enclosed in a larger room with a larger door for access, and the shower area was increased. In order to build a curbless shower, we removed the existing concrete floor in the area, dug down 5 inches, and re-poured the floor. This allowed us to install a gradual sloped shower entry.
Overall this was very satisfying, as the next time I saw her; she thanked me for being able to bathe by herself for the first time since her illness.
Business Management Matters
CAPS candidates often question the requirement for the business management session. “Why do I need to take that course when I am not in business?” Or, “I have had a successful contracting business for years, why do I need this intro to business management now?”
A few candidates are allowed to proceed based on professional designations already earned that include a similar management requirement. Still the question lingers. The issue was raised again at the Spring CAPS Board of Governor’s meeting, and I have come up with three answers. More than one answer may apply to some candidates.
I must confess that I, too, was skeptical of the need of that section when I took CAPS. After years of reading and seminar sessions on business management, as well as running my own company, I can honestly say I found this session well organized and valuable.
I think everyone interested in CAPS gets good value from the NAHB business management class. I hope these thoughts help others to relax and take advantage of the opportunity to learn good business basics or brush up on school of hard knocks lessons, as we all work together to take CAPS work to the next level.
Louis Tenenbaum, CAPS, is president of Louis Tenenbaum, LLC, a consulting and training firm with special expertise in environmental modifications, Aging in Place and Universal Design. Louis works with individuals, developers and organizations to craft homes and strategies that focus on dignity, independence and choice for older citizens. Louis has written widely on this subject and is a frequent national speaker. Clients include The National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association, the Horizon Foundation, the Administration on Aging, NIDRR, Department of Health and Human Services Office on Disability, AARP, Sanders Brown Center on Aging, Indiana University Institute on Aging, Disability and Community, Howard County, Maryland Department on Aging, AML Development, Slenker Land Corporation and many individual home owners.
AIA Introduces Home Design Trends Survey Results
Last month the American Institute of Architects (AIA) announced the results of its first-ever Home Design Trends Survey. Reflective of an aging population and the “baby boomer” generation approaching retirement, the survey results highlight an increasing demand for greater accessibility and single-floor design which promotes easier mobility within the home. Fueled by a strong housing market, architecture firms working in the residential sector have reported favorable business conditions; with 44% of respondents indicating that their overall billings increased by more than 5% in the first quarter of 2005, while only 10% reported declines in billings from the fourth quarter of 2004.
“Our data demonstrates that the remodeling market, for both additions/alterations and kitchen/bath renovations, were the strongest sectors in the residential market for the first quarter of 2005,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Additionally, the condominium and town house market was nearly as strong, with over half of firms reporting improving conditions for these units. We have found that the primary drivers in this particular market are young adults and empty-nesters who are interested in moving into urban neighborhoods.”
Click here for the full report: www.aia.org/econ_designsurvey_results.
Baker also stated that, “There has been a significant shift in consumer preference from formal living and dining rooms towards more ‘informal spaces’ featuring an open space layout of family rooms, dens, and activity rooms.”
Key residential design trend findings:
Firms in all regions reported positive business conditions, with those in the South experiencing the greatest gains and those in the Midwest lagging behind the other regions. Another contributing factor to the continued health of the housing market is the backlog of projects that firms have reported. The average project backlog of work under contract necessary to keep an entire staff fully employed is five to five and one-half months. This figure is especially significant due to the relatively short design period and tight schedules of many residential projects.
The AIA Home Design Trend Survey is conducted quarterly with a panel of 600 architecture firms that concentrate their practice in the residential sector. Future surveys will cover home features (special function rooms and special features in homes), emerging design trends (design of communities, use of technology in the home, new residential products), and kitchen and bath features and products.
For more information about the American Institute of Architects visit their Web site at www.aia.org.
VA Grant Program Can Help Remodelors Meet Veterans’ Special Needs
Looking for a way to help make a home fit a disabled veteran’s needs? The solution might be made possible through a Specially Adapted Housing grant to the veteran from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA’s Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) program provides assistance for construction or remodeling of an accessible home for those veterans who live with serious service-connected disabilities.
The SAH benefit is very important for some of our nations’ most seriously disabled veterans. Since the beginning of the SAH program in 1948, over 32,000 veterans have used their eligibility resulting in distribution of grant funds totaling over $565 million to either build new homes or adapt existing homes. The program has taken on additional significance recently as a way to help veterans who have suffered serious injuries as a result of service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Generally, if a veteran is determined to be 100% permanently service-connected disabled and requires a wheelchair, VA can provide SAH grant assistance. The amount of the grant may be up to 50% of the total cost of adapted housing, with a current maximum of $50,000, for the purpose of acquiring a home that is adapted to accommodate that disability.
Examples of adaptations would be wider door openings and hallways, master bedrooms with sufficient clear space for maneuvering, specially designed closet and storage areas, fixtures for the bathroom that are wheelchair accessible to include a roll-in shower, kitchen layouts to accommodate wheelchair use to include accessible appliances, work areas and adjustable counter and cabinet systems and accessible entrances/exits.
In addition, a second grant program provides adaptations of up to $10,000 for veterans who are blind in both eyes or have suffered the loss or loss of use of both hands.
Members who are interested in participating in this worthy program may obtain more detailed information from the VA Specially Adapted Housing website at www.homeloans.va.gov/sah.htm, or by calling the VA Regional Loan Center that serves their area.
Heating Important When Dealing with Disabled Persons
Mike Barnes of Jud Construction in Muncie, Ind. knows that heating is one of the most important issues when dealing with an elderly or disabled person’s bathroom. Persons with lower body damage are especially sensitive to cold temperatures in their lower extremities. Typically when you have a caretaker situation, they will pre-heat the bathroom for the disabled person.
According to Barnes, many consumers are taking advantage of the American Disabilities Act under the Medicaid waiver, where home owners can receive up to $15,000 to remodel their home. While this is a substantial amount of money, it only covers the essential changes making things like relocating walls cost prohibitive. Because of this the need for cost-effective solutions are of the utmost importance.
Of course the first step, once a client’s needs are assessed, is figure out how to work with their existing heating and cooling system. One of the most common tasks performed is to move registers, ducting and vents to create more room for wheelchairs. Sometimes temperature issues can be solved through the relocation of forced heat vents. However additional heating options are often necessary.
Space — in particular floor space — is of the utmost premium in these remodeling situations since expanding the bathroom is usually not an option. In some instances existing bathroom heaters need to be removed. Electric baseboard heaters are a common casualty due to taking up too much floor space when the bathroom entry way is widened.
Barnes suggests two solutions to the heat and space problem that are particularly strong. The first is to install floor heating underneath the tile or flooring. This is an ideal solution. Not only does it save valuable space, but the radiant heat from the floor is particularly helpful to those who are extra sensitive to the cold in their lower extremities. If this is not an option for financial or other reasons, a recessed wall-mounted electric heater can provide enough heat for the client.
Sadly most bathrooms were never designed to provide the proper access and comfort to disabled persons. But creative ideas and careful planning can make for solutions that will make both the client and remodeler more than satisfied.
Wanted: CAPS Project Photos
We need photographs of CAPS remodeling projects. We are especially interested in before and after project photos. If you have any photos to share, please contact Communications Manager Jim Lapides at email@example.com or 202-266-8451.
Smart Use of Space Important
One of the more common projects around Cedar Rapids, Iowa that we at Bea Day Plumbers perform for our clients with special needs is a remodeled bathroom. I first got into these types of projects when a long-time client became disabled. I asked a ton of questions and we worked together to figure out how to create a solution, and I encourage all of you to do the same.
Oftentimes clients do not have either the physical space or financial ability to expand their bathrooms. So we usually are dealing with a relatively small space. That being said, one of the most important questions we ask is how self-sufficient will the person be using the bathroom — in particular the shower. This will determine how we set up the roll-in shower.
When looking at roll-in shower options, we often use the Swan Corporation manufactured pieces. They have a good roll-in shower that fits nicely into the existing footprint of standard 60” by 32” bathtubs. This is a great way to help keep the costs down for the client and is an efficient solution that has worked very well for us.
Another option that we try to provide to clients is to lower the floor of the roll-in shower so that no ramp is needed to enter. We feel this is a great solution for disabled clients, especially when the bathroom is limited by space.
Determining the self-sufficiency of the client is very important. While grab-bars will be a part of any roll-in shower, determining what kind and where depends on who will be using them. We often place them for the aid of the caretaker, not just for the disable client. In addition, we recommend using shower curtains instead of doors as they are less constraining for the client and caretaker.
There are many options that can be provided to clients limited by space in their bathroom. However, to determine the best solution you need to ask question after question to really assess their needs. In the end, you and your client will both be satisfied.
CAPS Client Resource
Looking for information to share with your clients? Visit the U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA) Web site. The AoA provides tools to help you explain aging in place to your clients.
Download the AoA Home Modification Fact Sheet at www.aoa.gov/press/fact/pdf/fs_home_mod.pdf.
Maintaining Your CAPS Designation
You’ve spent time and money to earn your CAPS designation, and it has become an important part of your marketing when approaching potential clients. But unlike any high school or college degree, your CAPS designation can expire. Don’t forget your CAPS anniversary because to maintain the CAPS designation, graduates must complete the continuing education requirements every three years. The continuing education requirement date (or expiration date) is three years after your official graduation date and subsequent designation continuing education requirement dates.
Maintaining your CAPS designation requires two parts: annual renewal and the continuing education requirement. CAPS professionals must pay an annual renewal fee during their three-year designation period and complete the continuing education requirement at the end of the three-year designation period. CAPS receive renewal information by mail prior to their renewal date. In addition, CAPS professionals receive the continuing education requirement materials before the designation expiration date.
To complete the continuing education requirement, a CAPS designation recipient must earn a total of 12 hours of continuing education credit through class time or service from three continuing education sections (as described below). The options are divided into two parts:
Industry Education and Activities
To verify attendance for continuing education, each participant may be required to submit one of the following documents for each continuing education program listed on the continuing education requirement application:
Your CAPS designation puts you ahead of the rest. By continuing your education you continue to improve your business and your bottom line. Don’t let your designation run out!
Call for entries for the 2006 CAPS Designee of the Year Award
Think you have what it takes to be named Designee of the Year? Submit an application and find out at next year’s International Builders’ Show in Orlando.
“It’s always exciting to win an award,” says last year’s CAPS winner David Mathews, “but it’s really a chance to see what other people are doing with [their] designation and how they are making it work.”
Those submitting a Designee of the Year application will be judged on the promotion of their designation to customers and their efforts to mentor and recruit new program participants. They’ll also be evaluated on how they’ve elevated the image of the designation through participation in local events or activities.
The recipient will be selected by CAPS Boards of Governors and will be announced at the third annual Graduation Reception at the 2006 IBS.
One of last year’s nominees, Dianne Beaton, says that coupling the Awards ceremony with the Graduation Reception “…helps to get the message out that it’s worth pursuing designations, plus [it teaches that] you can always learn something new.”
Beaton also complimented the Board’s initiative to recognize all five designee programs. “It really shows that if you believe in the organization and the power of education [your] designation can bring you rewards that you don’t even know about.”
To apply for the title of Designee of the Year, contact the Professional Designation help line at 800-368-5242 x.8154. Completed forms can be sent to Tara Occhipinti at firstname.lastname@example.org by September 30th.
The 2006 "Certified Graduate" Graduation Reception is scheduled for Wednesday, January 11 from 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm at The Peabody Orlando. Advance registration is free to all designation holders in good standing and one guest. Candidates may attend for $40. The Reception includes an open bar and light fare. Register via e-mail at email@example.com by December 30.
Supporting Remodeling Education
The NAHB Remodelors Council Strategic Partners provide valuable support for the remodeling education. Show your support by visiting their web sites.
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