I would also add Occupational Therapist (OT) to this list.
According to the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists, “Occupational therapy is a type of health care that helps solve problems that interfere with a person’s ability to do the things that are important to them. Everyday things like:
- Self-care – getting dressed, eating, moving around the house;
- Being productive – going to work or school, participating in the community; and
- Leisure activities – sports, gardening, social activities.”
One of the questions I always ask my clients is, “Are you working with an Occupational Therapist?” I recommend my clients speak with an OT to ask for recommendations regarding activities of daily living. What are your needs now? How about in five years? In ten years? Your future mobility needs need to be considered to ensure you make the right move.
Throughout my 20-year career in Real Estate I have received a number of phone calls from people who had to make a move because their long-term needs were not considered.
It’s far better to buy a home now that can be modified to accommodate your future needs. Will you need an accessible entrance? How about an accessible bathroom? Will you need access to a second floor or basement?
An OT can help you with all of these answers. And with the right home, these can always be added at a later date.
In my last article in Community magazine – Building A More Accessible Toronto (Spring 2019), I referenced the growing trend of aging in place. This trend is occurring, in part because the cost of retirement home living is high. It might make more economic sense for you to modify your current home rather than move homes. You can then continue to live there safely and comfortably in the neighbourhood that you love.
OTs can be a valuable resource to help you age in place. An OT can make recommendations for present-day needs and potential future needs. If your current home can be modified to meet your future needs then great. However, if it can’t be modified cost effectively or you’d simply prefer to move, now is the time to start planning. When it comes to housing, I always encourage my clients to plan ahead and be pro-active rather than re-active.
OTs are also a very important part of the rehab team after an injury or accident. I regularly get asked to consult on housing after a motor vehicle accident or other personal injury. The request often comes from the OT who is already working with their client. If it’s determined that the pre-accident home can’t be modified, and the client decides to move, I rely on the OT to provide me with a list of essentials that the new home needs to have.
The United Kingdom has already embraced the importance of OTs when it comes to home modification. In my winter 2019 Community article The UK Leads The Way, I discussed the UK’s home modification initiative called Foundations which oversees a network of home improvement agencies. When a client first contacts their local agency, they are assigned an OT for consultation and they can then help them from start to finish.
Efforts are now being made in Canada to include OTs in the home modification process. In the winter 2018 Outspoken! edition I introduced readers to The Canadian Home Builders Association’s (CHBA) Home Modification Council. The CHBA is working towards a national database of qualified contractors who have experience in accessible home modification. I attended the CHBA annual conference earlier this year and I saw firsthand how home modification contractors are relying on the advice and guidance of OTs. I expect the OTs role in home modification will continue to grow.
Whether you’re making a move or modifying your home to age in place, an Occupational Therapist can help you plan ahead.
Jeffrey Kerr, Broker, Barrier Free Real Estate Specialist
RE/MAX Unique Inc., Brokerage