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Planning To Age In Place? Call Us….

| Owen Barclay |

Just like you, we’re often surprised by the variety of new products and services that are continually pouring into the aging-in-place and accessibility market. It’s exciting that we have all these new tools to better help our clients make their homes ever more accessible. But this explosion of innovations for us to pick and choose from also reminds us that our most important role as accessibility contractors, planners, and designers is to serve as problem solvers and solution providers. The way we see it:  Our no #1  product is the ability to understand your issues and offer solutions to your problems. And when we tailor a product, service, design or construction element that satisfies this need, then we’ve done our job.

What are we saying here? It’s not that we’re anti-product(far from it); but…well, here’s an example of what we mean.

Grab bars are a terrific product that helps to reduce the number of in-home falls and injuries dramatically. But without knowing precisely how and where to install the grab bar for maximum effectiveness, it still falls short of a great solution. As aging in place experts, we know that every installation is unique, requiring an understanding of who is using the grab bar and what that person’s limitations are. Do they need that grab bar at shoulder height?, should it be a bit closer to the faucet. Many aging in place experts will actually have clients step inside a bathtub or shower and observe their reach and movement limitations before advising on the appropriate locations of each grab bar.

The walk a mile in our shoes approach. It’s “knowing the client” that leads to the best aging in place solutions. How do aging-in-place and accessibility providers get to “know their client”? A great way to gain perspective and solutions to aging-in-place problems is the proverbially “walk a mile in our shoes” approach. We’ve recently become aware of some compelling research now being done that uses something called the “third age suit.” When worn by a person,  it makes bending and reaching more difficult, not unlike the aging process. The Ford Motor company uses it to understand how older customers might interact with a car’s interior. The result; a redesign of its Ford Focus to make that model a better fit for its baby boomer drivers.

Aging in Place contractors, planners, and designers, seek that same perspective when they do a home assessment for a client. It’s not merely to discover what products or services a home needs;  the best providers always perform those assessments in the presence of their clients,  and carefully watch their behaviour. Yes, they’re hunting for problem areas in the home, tripping and slipping hazards, areas that are hard to access or maintain… but their radar scope is also scanning for clues and hints from their clients that will lead to solutions that best integrate products and services into the household flow.

The point is that aging-in-place planning, design, and construction are so much more than the sum of its parts. Of course, the products we use and the services we provide are an essential part of our aging-in-place armament.  But it’s effective solutions that we’re really after… a marriage of products and services with smart design and application that maximize the aging in place experience. Interested in our approach to your home accessibility issues, then please give us a call at 604-259-9774 or email at [email protected].