Beginning where we are
In our own homes, those of family members, or in the homes of our clients, we can easily spot and identify solutions and changes we would like to make. But not so fast! Maybe those aren’t cost-effective or desirable.
The watchword of everything we do or recommend is safety. Based on how a change or improvement will impact someone’s ability to live in and use their home safely is how we should approach our observations and recommendations.
Someone may be so used to having a situation as it is and has adapted well to using it – even though we would have a challenge in using it this way. Therefore, there may be more pressing issues than what we first observe or want to recommend. If we give someone a long list of proposed changes and concerns, they may get defensive or lose interest. It is better to target the most pressing matters first and then get to the less important ones later, if at all.
Guidelines are just that
We have many sets of guidelines, best practices, and recommendations that we can follow in suggesting how someone might improve their living space, but unless those are promulgated building code requirements, and most of the time they aren’t, then we don’t have to recommend, implement, or follow any set of recommendations with our clients. This keeps the process from getting overly complicated – and pricey – for them.
It’s all about their needs, and when they have many of them, we need to prioritize suggested improvements or modifications in order of importance for their personal safety – regardless of their cost. When we have items that are at the top end of someone’s budget, or even exceeding it, we need to be able to create something as effective for them but for less money. We need to be creative.
We need to look at the most compelling improvements that we can recommend, and that the client will accept, to help them have a more safe and comfortable lifestyle in their home.
Taking a fresh approach
There are many types of relatively standard suggestions we can make for our clients – nonslip flooring, better lighting, and grab bars, for instance. However, when someone has a specific need or already has the items installed that we likely would recommend, we need to look past that to discover other unmet needs – and how to address them.
When we determine that a certain type of improvement – already manufactured or one that we created from scratch – would help our client, that is the direction we should go. It’s not so much a matter of following any set of guidelines as to what we should be implementing in someone’s home but what we deem to be their most pressing need or needs.
Then we can get started creating it, on an individualized basis to address each client’s specific needs and requirements, and even if we design it just for this client and their specific home environment parameters and budget.