Steve Hoffacker, CAPS, CEAC, SHSS, talks about home assessments, evaluations, checklists, and home audits in the CAPS courses that he teaches. Conducting the physical audit and assessment is a collaborative process that can be conducted by the contractor or other CAPS professional for non-medically based improvements, by the occupational or physical therapist for mobility or sensory needs, and by interior designers and others for sensory and navigation issues – sometimes with input from the client on what they think is going on in their home – to examine the issues in the home and then suggest solutions. Often, it is a joint effort where various perspectives are combined into a single approach for the client.
The concerns in the home that are referenced and documented in the assessment process with a checklist, notes, sketches, and photos can focus on (1) the physical aspects of the homes (such as the design, layout, floor plan, physical features, technology items, wiring, plumbing, access points, construction materials, finishes, doors, windows, lighting, flooring, cabinetry, bath fixtures, kitchens, switches, and controls) as well as (2) the physical and emotional needs of the occupants of the home (mobility, sensory, or cognitive concerns or issues, if any). Taken together, the professional has an outline of how to structure a program for dealing with the most pressing issues.
There are many types of assessment forms that you can use. Some are presented or referenced here. You may want to create your own based on the types of services you are providing and the types of clients you serve.
- An “Aging In Place Assessment Form” has been created by Steve Hoffacker by expanding upon and clarifying documents previously used in CAPS II textbooks that allows you to note your observations about the home on a room-by-room basis (inside the home and about the yard) and up to three members of your client’s household. You can note the physical issues that might be present in the home as well as functional aspects of using specific features or relating to the home environment, by the level of their severity. This is a pdf document is free and available for easy download. If you need it modified, contact Steve to request changes for your specific use.
- The AARP “Home Fit” Guide offers a simple checklist for consumers to use to ease them into the idea that their home may need some improvements. This focuses on the best practices approach rather than identifying any weaknesses or deficiencies in the design.
- Here is an InterNACHI Checklist used by Home Inspectors with many options for noting improvements that might be desired and published on the International Association of Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) website.
- This is a well-done checklist by Easy Living that pinpoints areas inside and out that require our focus to make a determination of how they allow individuals to function in their home, irrespective of their specific needs
- This checklist from Rebuilding Together provides a nicely organized list of items to be mindful of that pertain to the physical and safety features of a home.
OTs should develop a safety assessment form that works for them that they can use to provide an initial service for aging-in-place clients – whether any additional work is done or not. A professional functional assessment that an OT or PT performs for a client will factor into an overall strategy for home improvements but may be more specific than a spatial study to identify mobility and other concerns.
There are additional apps and resources for locating and using home assessment forms. Just be sure to find one that works for you and your clients. Feel free to create your own. If you want a turnkey package with instructions and coaching, Age Safe America offers such a program. Just be sure to mention that you learned about it here.