“There Are No Do-Overs In Aging In Place Solutions”

Meeting with a couple in their home to discuss their needs, get a firm idea of what needs to be done, and obtain their consent on the scope of work to be completed

While we don’t have to accomplish everything that we think needs to be done in any particular client’s home because the client doesn’t desire it, they don’t want all of it done right now, or their budget doesn’t permit it, we can’t do something improperly or incompletely and then go back and fix it – there are no do-overs. Our clients are relying on us to use our knowledge, training, and expertise to get it right the first time, and so we should.

Today is Groundhog Day, and in deference to the Bill Murray movie of the same name where he gets a series or do-overs until he finally gets it right, we don’t – nor should we – have that luxury. There is no on-the-job training unless we are an apprentice, and there is no experimenting at the client’s expense. We are hired by the client because we know what we are doing, and they expect to see and get the results that they are paying for and requiring.

In the movie, Bill Murray’s character gets to try out various scenarios and learn as he goes until he has a complete picture of what he wants – piano playing, impressing the town, or winning his co-star. We don’t have that ability. We must get it right the first time, subject to budgetary constraints or the desires of the clients. Still, within the parameters of which we are allowed to work, we must create a solution that nails the charge we had from our clients, the caregiver, or the referring professional.

The point is that we have to do a good job of determining what the client needs and how we can help them. We are not trying to install a package solution because we have identified a few products that seem to work well in many situations and we have determined how to price them for optimal margin and to be efficient in installing them to maximize our time expenditure and resulting profit. Each job is completely different with a unique set of circumstances, client needs, parameters of the dwelling, budget, and our approach. We can’t be robotic or mechanical in the way we provide our services and solutions. There is a definite art involved.

So, we begin by evaluating the space and at the same time listening to what our clients are expressing. There are a variety of needs that they might have. They might not have any special needs to speak of, and we can deal more with safety, aesthetics, flow, access, lighting, materials, colors, and finishes rather than accommodating limited mobility or sensory response. Then again, they might have some aging issues that affect their vision, hearing, or balance but otherwise are reasonably able to move about their home. They might have needs that relate to their ability to move about in their home – or for others living in the homes. Their concerns might be more for those outside the home who visit on a regular basis and have needs that need to be accommodated. There just are many different types of situations that could be present.

It’s important that we take our time in coming up with a proposal to address their needs and that we treat their project as something where we just have a single opportunity to get it right – because this really is the case. We can design in phases. We can accomplish the highest priority items for them now and return later to complete more, but we shouldn’t approach the job with the idea that we can always come back later and finish what we missed or make adjustments to the design. This is our singular chance to get it right.

Unlike the movie, we can’t afford to do a little and hope it works or wait to see what happens. We can’t approach it with the understanding that we’ll get additional chances to make it right. If we miss something now or fail to include it – or overlook anything – our clients are going to suffer. In the movie, people didn’t remember each time the sequence was re-lived that they had already do it. They had no memory it. Unfortunately, our clients will have a very vivid memory of what we have done if we come up short with their design.

There is too much riding on the design and people’s happiness, safety, and financial well-being to approach a design for them with anything less than our supreme effort, with the collective knowledge and expertise of the team members that we have assembled for the project. We may not be able to do everything for them that we would like based on limitations they set, but it shouldn’t be because we failed to deliver a peak effort.

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