Home modifications: MAMES to create standards

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

GWCC – Any person off the street can provide home modifications, but Blair Ferguson says that needs to change.

"There are no guidelines, no minimum standards," said Ferguson, owner of Forest Lake, Minn.-based home modifications company Beyond Barriers, said at Medtrade. "And if something like an accessible bathtub is installed incorrectly, it's not usable."

To prevent that problem, Ferguson approached MAMES Executive Director Rose Schafhauser to help create standards for home modifications.

After seeing home modification sessions "overflowing," Schafhauser was already thinking of ways to incorporate the burgeoning field into MAMES's offerings.

"The government is working to get people into the home, acknowledging that the home is where people need to be," said Schafhauser. "This fits right in with that."

Ferguson and Schafhauser organized a task force of MAMES members to explore the field and, at the association's fall meeting, members decided to make an official home modifications committee. The goal: create standards and promote education.

"There's a lot of excitement about this from current members and prospective members who've heard about the committee and want to get involved," said Schafhauser.

Ferguson says people doing home modifications include contractors, HME providers, and even people new to both industries who see the potential aging baby boomers will bring to the market.

The problem: "There's no guidance for any of these groups," said Ferguson.

Educating the public, policymakers and those in the business about home modifications will spread the word that having a qualified person do the job is key, said Ferguson.

"People need to know that this is a specialty—you've got to marry the construction and the clinical side to do this right," said Ferguson. "There is some value to the knowledge we bring to the table."


I am a licensed occupational therapist, a licensed realtor and a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist CAPS), through the National Association of Homebuilders.  I most definitely agree that there are many companies stating that they perform home modifications for persons with disabilities.  As an occupational therapist working in patients/clients homes, I have seen the results of poorly positioned and nonfunctional "home modifications" that have been performed and are not useful to the person.  There  needs to be some standards to adhere to when advising a person with disabilities of appropriate home modifications.  The modifications need to address the person's future aging-in-place needs, as well as current needs.