The training is great and it separates us from those in the marketplace without this additional education. However, there is nothing special or magical about the designation or the initials after our name. We have to add that intangible part to the overall package.
The marketplace is going to have various perceptions of what our CAPS designation means (not just us but for anyone with this training). After all, there are more and more articles, blogs, press releases, and events where aging in place and universal design topics are presented and discussed. This adds to the collective visibility of aging in place issues and concerns in the marketplace.
Add to this, the number of professional organizations that respect and endorse the CAPS training, and find that the number of people aware or at least exposed to what we are doing is greatly enhanced. Start with AARP and combine NAHB with that. Then add AOTA (occupational therapists) and APTA (physical therapists). For interior design and layout, there’s the AIA (architects), AIBD (building designers), NKBA (kitchen and bath), and ASID (interior design). There are many other organizations and groups that include an aging in place emphasis as well such as InterNACHI and ASHI (home inspectors), ACHP (handymen professionals), and NAR (through their SRES designation program).
There are several aging organizations that help educate people about CAPS and aging in place, including the National Aging In Place Council (NAIPC), Age Safe America (with the designation SHSS), Live At Home (formerly Accessible Home Improvements of America, with the CEAC designation program), Certified Senior Advisor (CSA), and others.
With all of the potential to work with people of all ages, abilities, and incomes, along with all of the marketing momentum from people who are discussing how people can remain in their homes, we have an unprecedented opportunity to help people do just that. We have the knowledge, the strategic relationships (to add components that we don’t personally bring to the solution), and the understanding to create safe, comfortable, convenient, and accessible living spaces – whether there is a specific physical situation that needs to be addressed or it’s normal aging concerns. We just have to focus on making the connections with potential clients and referring professionals who can use our services or point us in the right direction.
We have taken the first step by becoming CAPS trained. This will open some doors for us and help us create connections with other professionals. People will still to see results – solutions that come from our understanding of individual needs and a determination of how to approach and address them. Since there aren’t any standard design solutions that apply to each situation, we must determine how best to respond to what the client needs. This is the real value in what we do – how we use our insights and knowledge to positively impact the lives of those we serve.
Our CAPS training separates us in our marketplace from other professionals (designers, contractors, therapists, consultants, and others) who may be skilled at providing solutions to a point but lack the specific knowledge or the collaborative approach to be as effective as us. It’s this ability to understand how people’s needs change over time, to recognize what they may need currently, and the ability to involve occupational therapists, designers, and others (complementing the training we do not have) to work with us in creating solutions that take the client’s needs into account rather than just the physical nature of the home.