Professional designations abound
Most every industry or area of specialization has a designation, certification, or other educational programs through which they award a title of competency or merit, 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 through service, performance, or testing.
That’s what those of us who have earned the Certified Aging In Place Specialist – CAPS – designation are doing. We are telling the world – at least those professionals and consumers in our sphere of contact – 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. Moreover, the CAPS certification is a little different than other designations and programs in the realm of public opinion, acceptance, and recognition.
The CAPS program is a little different
There are dozens of certifications and training programs that a professional in real estate, construction, sales, marketing, home modifications, home assessments, healthcare, non-profits, or aging in place (among others) can strive for and attain. Many of them, while important and meaningful, aren’t immediately recognizable by the public until they have a need to engage someone with those credentials.
With the CAPS designation, there is 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.
CAPS connects with consumers
Because so many people, and especially consumers, know about the CAPS designation – possibly not the exact definition of it, what is required to earn it, what it represents, and how it translates to working with them individually – CAPS is respected as an achievement in the aging in place market.
People know that in a CAPS they can find a person who helps them create a solution allowing them to continue living in the home that they love, and 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 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.
Engaging a CAPS professional
In addition to homeowners and tenants wanting solutions to help them remain where they are long-term – from simple to more elaborate in scope – 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.
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 professionals are not going to do.
The designation opens the discussion
Having a CAPS designation doesn’t magically mean that people are going to be seeking us out exclusively. That would be nice, the marketplace is full of people who can perform home assessments and offer various types of home modifications and improvements.
Rather, having the CAPS designation opens the door and begins the conversation. If a potential client is considering a couple of professionals in their marketplace that might be able to help them, we would want them to contact and work with the CAPS professional. However, that is not automatic.
We have to let people know what we do and that we are going to be more attuned to their needs and aligned with various products, services, and related professionals to provide a more satisfactory solution for their issues.