What Ty Pennington has done for HME


Have you ever seen "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" or another of those home makeover reality TV shows? I saw a couple, almost 10 years ago now (yikes!) but, from what I can tell, the format is pretty much the same:

Basically, a family is in dire need of help. Maybe it's a widow with eight kids and no job, or a family whose home has been trashed by a natural disaster. The show gives some background on the family before host Ty Pennington sends them on vacation and completely redoes and expands their house. 

Now, we hear the term "unintended consequences" a lot, often referring to some kind of issue that crops up after a CMS regulation. These home makeover shows, however, are also having unintended consequences—good ones.

Provider Jim Karl of Marietta, Ga.-based All in One Accessibility told me last week that a lot of recent recipients on these shows have disabilities, and the work these contractors do on the shows is really spreading awareness of what home modifications providers—like Jim—can do to make it easier for aging parents to stay at home or for people with disabilities to get the most out of their homes. 

"It's been a huge statement: Look at what we can do, look at what we are doing," Jim told me.

Jim says the shows also raise awareness of the challenges people using HME face in the home—all while showing what technology and design can do to improve their lives. 

The people watching this show might have parents who are getting older, he said, and they're trying to figure out how to keep them at home or help them move in with family members—and this show gives them ideas of how to make that happen. 

"He, indirectly, has done probably more to create awareness in this area than what they thought they were doing," Jim said. "They thought they were just producing a segment that touches somebody's heart, but I don’t think they really intended it to have the secondary appeal that it has. That has been huge."

To check out "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," visit http://abc.go.com/shows/extreme-makeover-home-edition.