Numbers don’t lie, and the story that the figures from Statistics Canada tell us is that we have a rapidly aging population. Of course, individual Canadians aren’t getting older any faster. But, as the huge cohort of Baby Boomers ages, the number of us considered to be seniors is growing at an unprecedented rate. In fact, there are now more Canadians aged 65 and older than there are who are 14 or younger (see chart).
There are many healthcare and social issues related to an aging population, and one of the biggest is how to safely shelter elderly people who may have mobility, vision, and cognitive impairments. Yet, when surveyed, most older Canadians want to stay in their current homes in familiar surroundings for as long as possible.
That’s why the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) has been busy getting a Canadian version of the Certified-Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) program off the ground. Originally developed by the U.S. National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), CHBA has modified the U.S. program to meet Canadian requirements, calling it C-CAPS.
To qualify as a C-CAPS expert, participating renovators and homebuilders will start with a self-guided online course that takes about six hours to complete. At the end, there’s a test. That’s to be followed by a two-day in-class program, that also includes a test.
A large part of the program is understanding the various stakeholders involved in properly modifying a home to meet the owner’s current and potential needs. Key among those are the occupational therapists (OTs) that work directly with homeowners to understand their current and future needs. Others may include architects, designers, and municipal building and healthcare officials. To be done properly, aging-in-place modifications require collaboration among all parties, and contractors will have to be able to manage the various needs and requests, while providing homeowners with viable and cost-effective options.
The program will include information on the various grants and loan programs offered by product manufacturers and the various levels of government that can help make these renovations affordable for people on fixed incomes.
Once completed, C-CAPS certification can be used as a marketing tool to set renovators apart from their jack-of-all-trades competitors. To support that, CHBA will launch both a training and marketing site for renovators, and a separate site for consumers so they understand the value of hiring a certified C-CAPS specialist.
The “Canadianization” of the programs content has primarily included replacing U.S. housing and demographic stats and government contacts with Canadian ones. The home modifications needed for specific health conditions are the based on the client and the home, which means the same modifications would be done in both countries.
CHBA is running three pilot sessions to test and modify the course material as needed. The association expects to have the program fully operational by spring 2020.