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. Just helping people to live their lives more safely, comfortably, and enjoyably in their current homes, regardless of other factors affecting them, is a large focus of the CAPS program.

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, professional requirements, 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.

Are there any prerequisites to obtaining the designation?

Fortunately, there aren’t any requirements other than taking the three required classes (CAPS I, CAPS II, and CAPS III) and completing the online application (“graduation”) process.

This means that anyone who desires to obtain this certification can do so regardless of their education, work experience, profession, financial position, or anything else. Just have the desire to learn and to help people. No insurance or licensing requirements either.

Who typically takes the “CAPS” designation program?

While not a requirement or prerequisite, the vast majority of professionals who have taken the CAPS training with Steve Hoffacker have had a personal connection to a progressive or traumatic condition that affected someone in their immediate family – or themselves.

That said, there is no singular profile, but there are numerous professions that see the benefit of taking the CAPS coursework and obtaining their designation. Of course, anyone in the construction industry can benefit – general contractors, custom builders, remodelers, carpenters, plumbers, cabinet fabricators and installers, flooring contractors, lighting specialists, countertop installers, handymen, flatwork contractors, tile setters and cement masons, home automation and security specialists, locksmiths, painters, roofers, HVAC specialists and technicians, and other similar trades.

Health care and related professionals from a variety of fields find the coursework beneficial, including OTs, COTAs, PTs, PTAs, case managers. rehab specialists, discharge planners, physicians, nurses, social workers, geriatricians, gerontologists, behaviorists, oncologists, paramedics, audiologists and vision specialists, exercise therapists, art/music/drama therapists, and other such fields of specialization.

Equipment specialist, mobility assistance, durable medical equipment, interior designers, kitchen and bath designers, kitchen and bath showrooms, transit services, real estate agents, home stagers, senior move managers, non-profit organizations, government agencies, aging/senior services, attorneys, dog groomers, veterinarians, caregivers, home inspectors, county extension agents, financial planners and lenders, and so many others take the coursework for their own personal as well as professional development.

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 framed display certificate 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 licensing and 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 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), AOTA (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. Additionally, there is a tuition savings by taking them at one time.

What about the class being canceled?

Since the classes are being offered online for a for weeks – hopefully with this policy being extend well into the fall of 2020 and even into 2021 – a minimum number of people attending is not an issue. However, in live, in-person formats, the learning experience and the instructor’s time are maximized with at least five attendees. Still, Steve recognizes that many other instructors and home builder associations have a minimum number of students that they require before deciding to go forward with the class as advertised and often cancel the classes with relatively little time remaining before the event. When there is a small class enrollment, you will be given the option of attending or moving to another date where there are more people. We will do all that we can to hold the class as advertised, but we reserve the right to move you to another date and location of your choice to enhance the learning experience.

Are the classes available online?

Until April 2020, the answer to this question was an emphatic no. However, for the near term (through July and possibly well into the fall), the classes are taught in real-time online through the Zoom platform. They are not webinars nor prerecorded. This parallels, and often improves upon, the classroom experience. It’s highly recommended that you take it this way while you can. So the current answer is Yes!

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 (such as prior to 2017), but you may 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 likely will 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. The CAPS classes are $900 total if taken at one time but $335 each if taken individually or less than all three during the same three-day period. It is $850 total and $295 each for NAHB members. It is expected that someone will want to take all three classes, so it has been priced this way. Nearly everyone who registers is a member of AOTA, APTA, NKBA, a non-profit organization, or some other group, or wants to register multiple people from the same company, and they feel that they might be entitled to an additional discount. However, this has already been factored into the fair pricing structure that is published.

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 in just the past three years (34 times in 2019 alone).

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),  NKBA (Provider), and AICP (American Institute of Certified Planners, Charter Member). He incorporates his background into the courses.