Once we are committed to helping people remain in their homes – and some people are going to be more receptive to this idea and to have us assist them to do this more than others – everything else we do is on an individualized, case-by-case basis. It’s negotiable to serve the needs of our clients.
There are no mandates, standards, templates or anything else we must follow. Depending on our design treatments and the way we approach modifying their living space, we need to follow local building codes and manufacturer’s installation guidelines, but that is all. Everything else is dependent upon what they want, need, and can afford.
It’s nice to have a blank slate as far as the design is concerned – not blank in the sense that there are no budgetary constraints or limits on what we can do, but blank in the sense that we have no mandates that we need to adhere to in preparing our design. We evaluate the client’s living space, assess their abilities, determine their budget, learn the desired outcome they would like to achieve, and then we design accordingly.
All the while, our guiding premise is keeping them in their home. We have many challenges to get this done, but keeping them at home is our principal objective. We also are seeking a qualitative solution that enables people to enjoy their home and lifestyle and not just reside there.
Some of the challenges we face are the physical constraints presented by the home – narrow hallways and doors, entry porches or stoops that are too small or unsafe, room sizes that are too small, poor allocation of internal space, and how to expand small spaces (kitchens and bathrooms, for instance) into adjacent areas of the home. Add to this outdated or inadequate wiring, circuits, lighting, plumbing, windows, and flooring, and the physical challenges that must be overcome or considered become a driving force in the design efforts.
Other challenges we face are addressing and working with the physical needs presented by the clients. Some of them are going to have normal aging issues that affect their vision, hearing, balance, coordination, stamina, strength, and mobility. Others are going to have specific ailments, illnesses, and diseases they are contending with that impact their quality of life and must be considered in designing improvements for them. Their sensory, cognitive, or mobility limitations are going to be more pronounced and severe than just normal aging concerns.
Many people who want to remain in their current home – either through a conscious decision to do so or by just not willing to consider moving – are going to fall into the non-urgent needs category and may not desire us to do much to help them. It’s not that they can’t benefit from the work we would do. It has to do with their desire to welcome and embrace changes that are beneficial for them.
Regardless of whether it is the group of people falling into this non-urgent needs segment or those with progressive-based conditions, there is no standard approach that we need to offer them or none that they need to feel they must accept if they are going to have us provide help for them. Everything is negotiable after we get their buy-in that they want to remain in their home and that they could use a little (or more than a little) help from us to do so.