“For AIP Success, Collaborating With An OT Makes Sense”

In the world of professional sales, there’s a concept known as the “T/O” or “turn-over” in which the salesperson attempting to make the sale hands the process of to a more senior salesperson or their sales manager. When a potential sale is almost made but needs a little more help or a more experienced person to work with it, or when the potential sale seems to stall or begin faltering, the sales manager or designated closer steps in to attempt to take the sale the final distance and secure agreement from the buyer. Sometimes, this handoff is actually practiced and planned to get the job done even though the salesperson should be able to take it all the way to completion on their own. 

The managers or closers have experience working with stalls and excuses, and, since they have not been involved in the presentation until the end, they do not have the emotional attachment to the customers that the salesperson might. They can be more determined and persistent in getting the agreement made.

In our aging in place design scenarios, a similar process often happens – and when it doesn’t it needs to occur. The contractor or remodeler has the building expertise to know what solutions to recommend based on the physical criteria of the home, but they often (unless they are CAPS trained) lack the understanding of how people function within that space and what specifically needs to happen to the design to accommodate those living in the home.

To address the specific physical needs – mobility, sensory, or cognitive – of those occupying and living in a particular dwelling, the contractor, handyman, or remodeler needs to rely on the expertise, knowledge, perception, and vision of the occupational therapist (“OT”). It doesn’t matter whether this potential assignment was generated directly by the contractor, if the client contacted them directly to rectify a situation that existed, or if a referring party (medical professional, rehab specialist, insurance carrier, trade contractor, or someone else concerned about the well-being and functioning of the client in their home) brought the contractor in for their help in modifying the living space.

The point is that OTs are specifically trained to evaluate the living environment of people and determine what needs to be done in any contemplated remodeling activity to accommodate their needs. The OT is specifically trained to be able to identify those needs and then to recommend the appropriate type of design elements to address them – whether it eliminates the issues the client is facing completely to make their home safer and more comfortable for them, or it reduces the impact of those limitations by allowing the client to function better and more easily within their living space.

Remodelers are skilled in designing and completing typical projects (kitchens, baths, room additions, entrances, and finishing garages and basements) but do not have – nor are they expected to have – the type of medical background that would enable them to spot, interpret, understand, design for, or accommodate physical needs that need to be addressed and accommodated in the design solution – whether those limitations are apparent to the contractor or hidden and less obvious.

Thus, remodelers relying on a collaborative team effort with OTs and other professionals to fine-tune or even take the lead in design projects where there is a significant aging, mobility, sensory, or cognitive concern can mean that the client is the big winner and will receive the design and execution that will make their lives safer, more comfortable, and more convenient for their current situation. This also eliminates the stress and potential design liability on the part of the contractor of trying to guess correctly about what the client needs.

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