When we identify a potential client that we can serve – through our own marketing efforts or by way of referral – we must meet with them in their living space to determine what needs to be done, what can be done reasonably, what the available or comfortable budget is, and how willing the client is to have us work with them to achieve what we have in mind.
We can create a classic “textbook” design that improves upon most features in the home but may spend far more than the client has in mind and may fail to address some of their key needs. Obviously, this would be serving us more than them by showing how much we know and what we can do rather than addressing what they need regardless of whether it is consistent with or a little less than what we would normally do in such a setting.
Think of the aggressive real estate agent that promises a homeowner that they can list their home at top dollar – regardless of the condition of the home, the neighborhood where it is located, their ability to market the property, and the recent sales activity in that area. Clearly, listing it is easy – it just takes a signature. Pricing it appropriately and selling it are different matters. No one wants their home just listed. They want it sold. They want results.
For our aging in place services, putting in what many people think of as customary features – grab bars, ramps, and lever door handles, for example – may not be needed because they already are present, or there may be other, more urgent needs that demand budgetary consideration. Again, they are solutions in a way, but they may not produce the results the clients need, want, and expect.
If aging in place improvements, upgrades, or treatments were consistent from home-to-home – which they aren’t – people could visit a store or website to purchase various products or packages. They can do this to an extent, but what is missing is the integration of those products into a comprehensive design and a determination of which products (in the correct size, color, and finish) should be selected to address the needs which are present. This is why people should engage us because we have the ability to do this, and we don’t have to learn as we go or factor in that this is the first time we’ve ever done something like this.
We are not trying to make a sale simply to add to our bottom line and move on to the next home. We are service-driven professionals who desire to create the appropriate solutions for our clients – simple or complex, large or small, modestly-priced or more expensive – that address the needs we have identified through our assessment, ones they have indicated, and ones that a referring health or service professional might have shared with us.
We spend time getting to know our clients in their home, and we take into account both the condition and physical parameters of their home as well as their mobility and sensory needs and abilities in using their living space. What may have worked in the house next door may not be advisable at all in this home with these clients. Each person, home setting, and situation is different.
We have two objectives in creating effective aging in place solutions for our clients regardless of what those are and how simple or extensive they might be. First, they have to meet the needs of the client and help to resolve issues that they have in using their home well. It could be better lighting, more stable or less slippery flooring, easier to reach and use cabinets and controls, more accessible appliances and fixtures, a more comfortable environment from a temperature or air quality standpoint, or the ability to navigate and maneuver through their home more easily.
Second, it has to resonate well with the client. They have to like it. They have to appreciate the improvement that it is making to their living space and personal safety. They have to use it if it’s going to have the effect and impact that we wanted to create for them. This is only going to happen if they understand what we did for them, why it is better than they had, and it appeals to them aesthetically. They will be living with these improvements the rest of their lives so they need to like them. We will have designed them to be as attractive as possible and still be effective for their needs.
Whether we would put the same features or solutions in our own homes, those of a close relative, or even the next client we visit is not the point. Each client is treated as an individual to solve what they need to have done for them.