“A Lesson In Creating Aging In Place Designs From An Unlikely Source”

Sometimes we can find great illustrations for life principles from totally unrelated places. If we are open to what we are observing, we can apply what we see or hear to an issue at hand and often solve something or create an approach that otherwise might have eluded us.

Anyone who is a fan of sports movies – especially ones based on actual events – or of movies based in the 1950s, might remember the movie “Hoosiers” about the fictional Indiana town of Hickory and their 1954 Indiana State championship basketball season. It’s been on TV several times. The key point in the movie – for our purposes is the admonition of Coach Dale (Gene Hackmann) to his players to pass the ball four times before shooting.

The game was played a little differently then compared to now, and there was no shot clock> Still,  what was so special about this idea of passing the ball four times before shooting? Other teams didn’t seem to be doing it from what we saw in the movie – at least if they did it wasn’t such a big deal to them as it was to Coach Dale. So, why did he select the number four and not a different number? Was this symbolic of something? Why was he such a stickler for this – even to the point of benching a player for violating his instructions?

A possible explanation – because we don’t know for sure what was behind his strategy or teaching method –  was that he wanted to teach his team discipline and patience. Passing just wasn’t done that much. It wasn’t glamorous. It scored no points. Shooting was how a team added points to the scoreboard – then and now. That part of the game has not changed over time. Nevertheless, he wanted to build teamwork and have the team follow his direction. He wanted a cohesive team of players with him as the coach and not a bunch of players acting as assistant coaches on the floor trying to implement their own strategies.

Also, he wanted to keep players from going for individual achievement and to play as a team. By passing the ball – not once or twice, but four times – it forced them to pay attention to their teammates and the other team. The passes had to be well-timed and not sloppy or the other team could easily intercept them. Sooner or later – after the fourth pass – a good shot opportunity would emerge. By being patient and not shooting as soon as they got the ball, they would have a higher percentage of scoring.

Now, applying this to the way we evaluate opportunities to help people remain in their homes and determine ways to rectify and modify outmoded or inefficient appliances, layouts, spatial relationships, cabinetry and other storage, lighting, flooring, controls, bathrooms, closets, and other aspects of an older home, we can arrive at our first inclination of what to do and recommend this to the homeowner (client), or we can pass the ball a couple of times – meaning that we look for additional possibilities for solutions that may be more promising or efficeint than our original idea. By looking at more than one way to approach a design solution (for example, four alternatives as in four passes) we have to really look at the physical parameters and characteristics of the structure and the mobility, sensory, and cognitive needs, requirements, and abilities of the client and others in their household.

By continuing to look for plausible solutions past our initial pass at a design improvement, it causes us to weigh the merits of our original design, test other possibilities, and create a solution – or more than one – that we can present to the client that addresses their concerns and meets their budgetary parameters. This keeps us sharp and helps to ensure that the client is getting our best effort. Rather than giving them the first idea we come up with, we test that against other possibilities and present them with one or two of the best approaches for them to consider and approve.

This is how we can achieve a championship design for our clients each time and outscore the competition who may not understand or be willing to devote the energy necessary to find the optimum solution for the client. We are forcing ourselves to be the best in each situation.

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