A home accessibility consultant (HAC) can be someone with a few different backgrounds but typically includes- Occupational Therapists, Builders, and Architects. They have skills and training in working with individuals to modify their environment to optimize safety and accessibility. Occupational therapists have an added advantage when they combine this knowledge with experience in various hospital settings and the discharge planning process for each. Hospitals, acute rehabs, and skilled nursing facilities all have different "end points" and discharge procedures.
When should you contact them?
Whenever you have noticed a change in your functioning at home or that of your loved one. Connecting with a HAC prior to an event or injury (ie. fall in the home), is one of the best ways to prevent potential accidents. Some examples of scenarios to "red flag" connecting with a home accessibility consultant:
A: You have noticed a change in how you are moving around at home or things around the house are feeling harder to do and you want to have someone help you troubleshoot
B: You have concerns about how your parent or loved on is functioning at home but don't know who to reach out to for answers
C: You are looking to make changes around the house and want the renovation to suit your needs now and as you age in your home
D: Your loved one has been in a facility but wants to return home and you know that changes need to be made to their home, or are unsure about the facility's determination of their fit for home and would like an independent professional opinion
This is the short list. Any situation revolving around questions of being able to age in your home are prime opportunities to bring in a home accessibility consultant.
What do they do?
I can only speak to my process with my clients so the following is a typical three part series.
1. First, I meet with a client to learn about their background, current level of function, where they may be having difficulty, what has been going on medically/socially/physically/emotionally that has led them to reach out to a HAC to consider modifications. Then we walk through their home, having them do each activity they would in a typical day at home.
2. Following the interview and assessment piece, a report including suggested modifications, new equipment placement, and/or new services to be introduced are presented to the client and any pertinent family members.
3. A final meeting takes place after modifications have been made to discuss their effectiveness for the client and to go over any new concerns.
Home accessibility consultants are an integral component of making informed decisions for yourself or a loved one when it comes to living arrangements and modifications. As an HAC my responsibility is to the client, to integrate their goals with their physical environment to promote safety and accessibility at home. In certain situations these assessments may indicate that staying home is not the safest option. In these instances, working with clients and their families to devise a plan, whether it be adding services or beginning the transition to an assisted living facility may be part of the long term strategy.
If you have concerns regarding your loved ones, or your home set up please contact me to discuss your current situation and needs for the future.