Partners in the Building Process

For mobility/rehab providers, the good news about home accessibility is that the niche is expected to grow as baby boomers (and their parents) age. The better news from a business perspective: Providers don’t have to go it alone.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) program designed to teach its members about home accessibility and the unique housing needs of seniors and people with disabilities.

Dan Bawden, president of Legal Eagle Contractors in Bellaire, Texas, is a CAPS professional who also teaches CAPS classes. Bawden says CAPS courses teach attendees a variety of topics, from proper disability etiquette and terminology to how to work with mobility/rehab professionals.

“We encourage our CAPS graduates to have a relationship with an equipment supplier (aka, vendor) and also a durable medical equipment supplier,” Bawden says. “By the time they leave my class, they know what a DME (supplier) is and how to reach those folks and find them in their local communities.”

Bawden says CAPS classes teach the value of teamwork during the home accessibility process. “We hammer that in the courses,” he says. “(The students) will have already heard that from the instructors when they take the courses — the fact that we contractors are not the experts in progressive diseases. We readily admit we want input from OTs and PTs. Then there are the traumatic situations, where someone’s had a stroke and they’re coming home from the hospital in six weeks and the following changes need to be made. We teach our students to go out with a healthcare professional, so there can be some brainstorming about the adaptable ideas as well as the ones that are needed right here and now.”

The NAHB Web site (www.nahb.org) offers consumers the ability to search for a CAPS remodeler — and Bawden suggests that DME suppliers can use that function to look for potential business partners qualified to perform larger-scale remodeling projects. “What (DME suppliers) do in their business helps connect back in the other direction,” Bawden says, suggesting that setting up such partnerships can lead to two-way referrals. And he says that CAPS remodelers would welcome such partnership opportunities: “Where (DME suppliers) are contacting CAPS people in their area to try to set up those relationships, you’ll find a receptive audience.”

Closer to home for mobility/rehab suppliers, U.S. Rehab offers the Certified Environmental Access Consultant (CEAC) credential for providers who want to specialize in this field (and have a competitive advantage in their neighborhoods). Go to www.usrehab.com for details on this educational opportunity.

This article originally appeared in the June 2008 issue of Mobility Management.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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