What is “CAPS”?

“CAPS” stands for “Certified Aging In Place Specialist,” and is a designation program offered since 2002 jointly by AARP and NAHB. Several thousand people have completed their CAPS designation and are using their education to help people live more safely and comfortably in their homes. The key objective of a CAPS education is understanding what people need to enjoy and function well in their living space by creating accessible environments for any age or ability, whether they have any urgent or apparent physical needs or requirements, they a type of progressive condition that gets more intense over time, or they have suffered a traumatic injury that requires an immediate response.

How do you get the “CAPS” designation?

Everyone must complete the three required day-long courses to obtain the CAPS designation – “Marketing & Communicating With The Aging In Place Client” (“CAPS I”), “Design Concepts For Livable Homes & Aging In Place” (“CAPS II”), and “Details & Solutions For Livable Homes & Aging In Place” (“CAPS III”). There are no prerequisites (other coursework, college degrees, formal education, years of industry service, construction experience, or other requirements) to complete before undertaking or completing the CAPS program, and there is nothing to do afterward such as a paper or project. There are no exemptions for other coursework or experience.

Is there a long application process to complete?

Just take the three required classes and apply for graduation when you are notified that all of your paperwork has been processed (about a month after completing the courses). Graduation has a current fee of $110 or $218 for non-members (the higher number is for a display plaque and lapel pin, while the lower number is for a downloadable paper certificate) and $75 or $145 for NAHB members. Membership in NAHB is not required to graduate and remain active with your CAPS certificate. To remain active and be listed on the NAHB “CAPS Directory” (a great benefit), the annual renewal is $83 for non-members and $55 for members. There is no background check, no multi-page application (it’s a couple of simple one page forms online), and nothing to prove as far as background, education, or credentials. Contractors do need to supply proof of insurance.

Is there a time limit to complete the designation?

While there is no effective time limit for completing the designation, it is advisable to complete it as quickly as possible once you start so you can begin using your new skills and information as you assist your clients and customers. Steve Hoffacker always offers the three courses on consecutive days (such as Monday-Wednesday, Tuesday-Thursday, or Wednesday-Friday). Other instructors may break them up and offer one course a month or just one or two of the three classes. Also, the classes can be taken in any order, Nevertheless, there is a certain synergy and continuity developed from taking the classes in order and on consecutive days. If you have taken one or two of the three classes previously, you can simply take the remaining classes to obtain your designation.

Who benefits from taking the “CAPS” program?

There are many different businesses and professionals who take the CAPS program – and for a variety of reasons. Some want to branch off in a new direction, some want to open a new company or rebrand their current one, some want to enhance their skill set, some want to be ready for what they see as an emerging market, and some take it for personal reasons to be able to use the concepts for their own life situation. While not a requirement or prerequisite, the vast majority of professionals who have taken the CAPS with Steve Hoffacker have had a personal connection to a progressive or traumatic condition that affected someone in their immediate family.

Examples of people who have completed the CAPS designation with Steve Hoffacker include general contractors, remodelers, handymen, trade contractors (plumbers, electricians, carpenters, low voltage electricians, cabinet and countertop fabricators, lighting specialists, and flooring contractors, for instance), custom builders, occupational therapists, physical therapists, physicians, architects, interior designers, kitchen and bath designers, durable medical equipment providers, housing component manufacturers or installers (energy systems, HVAC, plumbing, glass, or siding, for instance), home health agencies, nursing services, senior housing and property management companies, university faculty (particularly occupational therapists), non-profit and government organizations, real estate sales professionals, home stagers, home inspectors, county extension agents, attorneys, financial planners and lenders, and essentially anyone else who can see themselves as a provider of services to seniors or others who want to remain living well in their homes.

Who recognizes the “CAPS” credentials?

There are many people, including a growing segment of consumers, who recognize the CAPS designation as a professional distinction of specialized training in serving the needs of people who want to remain in their current homes long-term and may need some modifications to enable that to happen. While other professionals that you might choose to work with will understand and even seek out those with the CAPS designation to work with, the consumer is the one who has begun to appreciate the designation. The CAPS designation has been written about and discussed in many publications and forums, so the consumer is becoming much more aware of the importance of using a contractor, healthcare professional, or other service providers who possess the CAPS training.

In fact, you can and should use this in your marketing, once you attain the designation, to appeal to consumers who are looking for CAPS trained professionals. To help in promoting the designation, in addition to NAHB and AARP, at least eight other professional organizations (for a total of ten) encourage their members to become CAPS trained and offer continuing education credits for the courses: AIA (American Institute of Architects), AOTO (American Occupational Therapy Association,), APTA (American Physical Therapy Association), ASID (American Society of Interior Designers), NKBA (National Kitchen & Bath Association), AIBD (American Institute of Building Design), InterNACHI (International Association of Certified Home Inspectors), and ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors). Additionally, Realtors (NAR/SRES) and Property Managers (NARPM) recognize the designation. Several aging in place membership and advocacy organizations do as well: National Aging In Place Council (NAIPC), Age Safe America (ASA), and  VGM Homelink/Live At Home (LAH).

What if you can’t take all of the classes at one time?

CAPS I and CAPS II are standalone, independent, yet inter-related classes. CAPS III is an application of the other two classes and should be taken last in the series, but they don’t need to be taken on consecutive days. The classes can be taken at any time, but the courses are synergistic, meaning that the refer back-and-forth to each other and build upon concepts in the others. Therefore, it is highly recommended that all three be taken together on consecutive days. Steve is one of the few instructors who has consistently offered the classes this way for over a decade.

What about the class being canceled?

Some instructors and home builder associations have a minimum number of students that they require before deciding to go forward with the class as advertised or to cancel it. This is not the case with Steve Hoffacker’s programs. As long as one person registers and pays for the program (all three CAPS classes or the Universal Design/Build course), the class will be held. This gives you the confidence to schedule the class and make your travel arrangements. If you are that one person who registers, the class will be held, but you will be given the option of changing to another date at your option to enhance the learning experience.

Are the classes available online?

At this time, the classes are only offered in the classroom, in-person. There is a distinct advantage to doing it this way. Webinars and online courses are convenient, but it’s easy to become distracted by other things going on around us or to multi-task while the program is showing. The real benefit, however, is that more than half of the value of taking the class is the interaction with other attendees to share ideas, ask questions of each other, and discover additional resources.

Is there a benefit for taking the new CAPS III if we already have our CAPS?

Your CAPS designation is valid no matter when you completed it, but you want to take CAPS III as a refresher course or to apply what you have learned. It is not necessary or required that you do so, but you may find it beneficial. It will count as 6 hours of CE.

Is there a discount for registering for all three CAPS classes at once?

Yes, but it’s already been factored into to what is shown because it is expected that you will take all three classes at the same location during the same three-day period. The price per class is numerically the same for each one-day class, but it actually is more from a practical sense because you will need to register for each class separately, make arrangements to attend each time, and delay your attainment and use of the designation until you have completed all three of them.

What if you don’t have a construction background?

There are many CAPS certified professionals outside the construction industry so do not be concerned if you are unfamiliar with building methods, technology, or terminology. The important thing is that you can work with those who do possess such knowledge to create effective solutions for your clients and those you want to serve. Construction experience or knowledge is not a requirement for obtaining the CAPS designation. Let your particular area of expertise come through to heighten the overall client experience. You might have just the experience that a contractor needs to be more effective in what they do.

Are there other benefits from taking the “CAPS” with Steve Hoffacker?

One of the biggest reasons for enrolling in classes offered by Steve Hoffacker is that he never cancels any classes – even if you are the only one registered. You can elect to move your registration to one with a larger enrollment, but the classes will go on as scheduled. Steve is the most experienced active CAPS Instructor, having taught the three-day CAPS series well over 100 times, including more than 80 times the past three years.

Also, Steve has written and published four books on universal design and aging in place and frequently uses information from his books to discuss or illustrate design solutions – both from a “what to do” and “what to avoid” standpoint.

Steve also maintains an international database of students who have completed his classes so he can (and frequently has done so) make connections for people who need them.

Steve was named by NAHB as the 2015 “CAPS Educator of the Year” and became an “NAHB Master Instructor” in January 2017. He frequently is contacted as a knowledgeable resource by media and a variety of other people across North America.

As a professional sociologist (MA), he is a student of demographic trends, aging issues, shelter and well-being needs, and human interaction. He also is a member of AOTA (Associate), AIBD (Educator), and NKBA (Provider). He incorporates his background into the courses.