An old adage is “fake it ’til you make it,” but people today want the real deal. If we can’t deliver as we intend or promise, there are a couple of options open to us. We can head in a different direction (which is probably not what we wanted to hear), we can wait until we are able to do what we say we can, we can find someone to work with who does have the experience who will teach us or allow us to learn, or we can kick it into high gear and get up-to-speed very quickly.
On the job training is fine for some pursuits, but in the aging in place services and solutions market, we are talking about working inside people’s homes and using their hard-earned savings wisely. While we might have a little time to learn our business and get ready to serve them, they may not have that much time to wait. They need solutions now.
It’s more than just displaying confidence in what we might be able to do or what we think we should be capable of doing for the public. We actually have to have the technical expertise to evaluate what our clients need, advise them about what works within their budget, prioritize the work if necessary to accommodate their budget, and then deliver our proposed solutions as we have described them (and received concurrence on from them). This is more than just a typical remodeling effort. The quality of their lives and their ability to perform some of their basic daily tasks may depend on what we do for them. Also, we have a fiduciary responsibility to them that cannot be undertaken on just a general idea of how to approach something.
People want to live in their homes safely, comfortably, and conveniently – long-term. It does no good to agree with them that changes need to be made to accomplish that purpose if we aren’t the ones who can do something about it. We need to evaluate what is present, understand their needs (both what they are expressing and what we are seeing and interpreting), and have the ability to create an effective solution that can be implemented. Then, depending on our level of expertise as an occupational or physical therapist, contractor, designer, consultant, case manager, or related profession, we can begin the process of executing the design.
We might not have all of the answers initially because everyone has to start someplace. We just need to make sure that our clients are getting the best solutions possible. If not from us directly because we haven’t acquired the knowledge yet on how to do an assessment, how to interpret what we are observing and translate that into an action plan or proposal for the clients to approve,As we are working with and engaging our clients – by ourselves or with team members that we assemble and bring to the job – we interact with our clients and let them know how we are going to proceed with the job. If we aren’t fully up-to-speed yet, we need to rely more heavily on the experts whom we have brought together and assembled for this type of project.
Regardless of how we choose to approach helping a potential client to make improvements to their home that will allow them to remain living in it long-term, and whatever of professional expertise or specialty happens to be, the client is the ultimate beneficiary of the work we might do. We have to be up to the task. When we aren’t because we have more initial enthusiasm than skill and content, selecting the right people to partner with us on an assignment will make all of the difference. The client will get what they need, we will begin establishing a great working partnership with a knowledgeable professional, and we will learn invaluable information about our new field.
The main thing is that the client cannot feel disadvantaged because we contacted them and they choose to work with us. They can’t know that we are inexperienced, and we can’t fake it because it will soon be obvious that we don’t know as much as doing what we are discussing with them.