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?

Generally, completion of three day-long courses are required to attain the designation – “Marketing & Communicating With The Aging In Place Client” (“CAPS I”), “Design Concepts For Livable Homes & Aging In Place” (“CAPS II”), and “Business Management for Building Professionals” (“BMBP”) – although the third class can be eliminated if you have an MBA in the last 10 years or certain other designations, such as: CGA, CGB, CGP, CGR, GMB, GMR, CR, CKD, CBD, CMKBD, AIA, ASID, GRI, or CCIM. Then you will only need CAPS I and CAPS II. There are no prerequisites (other coursework, college degrees, formal education, years of industry service, construction experience, or other requirements) to complete before undertaking the CAPS program, and there is nothing to do afterward such as a paper or project. Note: the current third required class (“BMBP”) will become an elective class on November 11, 2017, and “CAPS III – Details & Solutions For Livable Homes & Aging In Place” will be required of everyone. There will be no more exemptions.

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 (usually on a Wednesday, Thursday, and 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, and flooring contractors, for instance), custom builders, occupational therapists, physical therapists, 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, financial planners and lenders, and essentially anyone else who can see themselves as a provider of services to help people live 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 off 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, heath care professional, or other service provider who possesses 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, and Accessible Home Improvements of America (AHIA).

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. BMBP is as well. When CAPS III is introduced next month in November, 2017, CAPS II will be a required prerequisite, but they don’t need to be taken on consecutive days (however it is recommended and offered this way by Steve Hoffacker). 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 the past decade.

Will I need to take the new CAPS III class for my certification?

Anyone taking the three-day CAPS program from November 1, 2017 onward will take CAPS III as part of the curriculum – CAPS I, CAPS II, and CAPS III. There will be exemptions or exceptions like there have been when the Business Management course was the required third class. As to whether you want to go back and take CAPS III, it is not necessary or required. Your designation is not affected. However, it is recommended, and you will benefit from it. It will count as 6 hours of CE.

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.

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

One 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 nearly 100 times, including more than 25 times each the past two years – and scheduled for even more in 2018.

Also, Steve has written and published four titles 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 data base 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 a “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 incorporates his background into the courses.