A 50-year industry veteran and Universal Design (UD) expert partnered with a national childproofing expert to introduce the Certified Living in Place program earlier this year—expanding upon the scope of UD to address safety issues directly and providing a “game-changing” digital checklist that can be used during the design and sales processes.
Innovation comes in many forms, not just fancy bells and whistles, lights and fireworks. Innovation can be as simple as building homes in which all the outlets are 24 inches above the floor, wall switches are 44 inches above the floor and every stairway has two handrails—making a home safe, accessible and comfortable. That alone might set one builder apart from another.
“THERE’S A NATIONAL CRISIS IN HOME SAFETY, AND A WAY FOR BUILDERS AND DEVELOPERS TO INCREASE PROFITS WHILE INCREASING SAFETY AND MINIMIZING LIABILITY.”
Erik Listou, co-founder of the Living in Place Institute
A few years ago, Listou and his business partner Louis Delaware saw a need in the emerging areas of safety, comfort and accessibility in the homebuilding arena and created the Certified Living in Place Professional (CLIPP) education and certification program to fill the niche not quite covered by Aging-in-Place and Universal Design methodologies. Listou believes those two design principles “are target market approaches, specifically for older adults and persons with disabilities.” As a long-time national instructor and advocator of CAPS and UD, Listou, a 50-year veteran of the building industry, says “I’ve watched industry interest fall away from attention to safety, which has been viewed as a problem that someone else should solve.”
He uses the incidences of falls in the home as an example of an issue industry professionals need to be cognizant of. According to the CDC, Listou says, 60 percent of all falls occur at home and 1 out of 3 people over 65 will fall. “I’m concerned that as our aging population increases and the number of home accidents increases, the potential for holding the builder responsible increases dramatically,” Listou says. “If a builder is proactive on providing the best and safest products it minimizes his or her liability and provides a safe place for a family to live in the future.”
INNOVATIVE TRAINING APPROACH AND ASSESSMENT TOOL
Listou and Delaware, a nationally recognized childproofing expert and author of How to Childproof Your Home who has a background in medical research and development, travel the country teaching two-day workshops that cover everything from fall prevention to medical, pharmaceutical and cognitive issues; designs; products and installation; and how to market yourself using the CLIPP designation. The main focus of the program is on the home itself and how it can improve inhabitants’ quality of life.
The workshop includes an experiential lunch in which participants don glasses to replicate macular degeneration and cover their hands in thick gloves (as seen above). Doing so helps industry professionals understand how clients might have to maneuver around their kitchen, for example.
The CLIPP designation includes access to the Living in Place Assessment tool, a proprietary electronic home accessibility checklist that can be used by builders and designers when looking at new home designs and as a compelling tool during the sales process. Mary Jo Peterson, a designer who went through the training, described the tool and the program in more detail in a Kitchen & Bath Design article earlier this year.
The tool was developed with insights from a cross industry team, including a designer, occupational therapist and builder/remodeler. According to Peterson, who got to see it first hand, it is a “real game changer”—covering safety and usability throughout the home with the ability to be tailored to a client’s needs and desires.
NOT JUST FOR THE AGING IN PLACE
“IN A 100-YEAR LIFE CYCLE, 20 INDIVIDUALS WILL LIVE IN THAT HOME. ASSUMING THERE’S ONE VISITOR A WEEK, THAT NUMBER GROWS TO 6,000 HUMANS WALKING INTO THAT HOME. BY CHANGING DESIGN AND PRODUCT WE HELP NOT JUST THOSE 20 HOMEOWNERS, BUT THOSE 6,000 FAMILY AND FRIENDS.”
Begun earlier this year, the CLIPP certification program is recognized by the National Kitchen and Bath Association, the American Society of Interior Designers, the American Occupational Therapy Association, the American Society of Home Inspectors and other groups. It already has 150 graduates who run the gamut of builders, remodelers and designers to medical professionals, home inspectors and realtors.
Listou and Delaware are hoping that industry professionals can be proactive in designing and building homes for a wide variety of people.