Most every industry or area of specialization has a designation, certification, or other educational programs through which they award a title of competency, represented by a series of initials that a person uses after their name to signify that they have completed the training or qualified for the designation. Many organizations have multiple designations and certifications.
Those of us who have earned the Certified Aging In Place Specialist – CAPS – designation, and the many who are planning on getting theirs in the next few months, are telling the world that we have completed specialized training to work with and help people remain safely in their homes as they continue to live in them long-term. Additionally, the CAPS certification is a little different than other designations and programs in the realm of public opinion, acceptance, and recognition.
There are dozens of certifications and training programs that a professional in real estate, construction, sales, healthcare, non-profits, or aging in place (among others) can strive for and attain. Many of them, while important and meaningful, and possibly even requiring years of academic study and achievement, aren’t immediately recognizable by the public until they have a need to engage someone with those credentials.
With the CAPS, there are a minimum of eight national professional organizations (NAHB – National Association of Home Builders, AARP, AIA – American Institute of Architects, AOTA – American Occupational Therapy Association, APTA – American Physical Therapy Association, AIBD – American Institute of Building Design, NKBA – National Kitchen & Bath Association, and ASID – American Society of Interior Designers) that encourage their members to attain the CAPS certification, offer continuing education credits for coursework, and promote the designation and training to their members, and by extension, members’ families, clients, associates, and friends.
There are several membership organizations for aging in place that support and recognize the work of CAPS professionals (Age Safe America and National Aging In Place Council, for example).
With the supporting organizations and the CAPS professionals who are promoting their designations to their clients and the general public, it is not surprising that people are requesting CAPS professionals to assist them in remaining in their homes or in doing a home evaluation or assessment to spot safety, environmental, and other challenges in their homes that they alleviate, eliminate, or rectify – on their own or with our help.
This is why having the CAPS is beneficial and why so many consumers are aware of what CAPS training is – perhaps not the exact definition of it and what is required to earn it but knowing that it is something they want in a person who helps them create a solution to allow them to continue living in the home that they love. We are seeing more instances of consumers looking for and requesting CAPS trained professionals to work with them in their homes to help solve their issues.
When homeowners (and renters because it is not limited just to owners) want someone to look at their home and help it become safer, more accessible, more functional, and just a more enjoyable place for them to remain, they begin – to the extent they can locate one in their area – by reaching out to a CAPS trained professional.
Similarly, property managers, case managers, social workers, attorneys, claims adjusters, social service agencies, and anyone else who works with people in their homes to modify, renovate, repair, or remediate them would welcome a CAPS professional to assist them in such endeavors.
As strong as the Certified Aging In Place Specialist (CAPS) designation is in preparing us to enter people’s homes, meet with them, look at the physical condition and parameters of their homes, evaluate their own functional needs, and suggest a renovation program (within their budget), we have to make sure that the people we are meeting and preparing to work with understand the value, tools, and experience we bring to them.
Therefore, CAPS must be more than just a set of letters or initials next to our name. It has to connect with the consumer, or the strategic partner or referring professional we want to work with, in such a way as to let them know that we have the training, knowledge, experience, resources, and network to serve them in a way that non-CAPS professional are not able to do.