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COVID, aging boomers among drivers for home accessibility

COVID, aging boomers among drivers for home accessibility

The home accessibility product category remains strong and continues to provide business opportunities for HME providers. It’s also a market that has been accelerated by the recent COVID-19 pandemic and an influx in aging baby boomers, specialists in the field say. 

“From summer 2021 to 2022, the industry was growing at 20% above previous periods,” said Jim Greatorex, vice president of Waterloo, Iowa-based VGM Live at Home, a division of VGM Group. “There has been some pent-up demand from the pandemic and some from the retail market taking off. Boomers are a key demographic and central to the sector’s growth, but at this point, boomers are still buying for their parents rather than themselves. Their influence is growing, but they are not yet the dominating force.” 

Dan Radacosky, regional vice president of sales for Auburn, Wash.-based EZ Access’ West Region, also confirms home accessibility’s continued growth and that boomers are central to the category’s future success. 

“(COVID is also) a notable accelerator for people wanting to stay home or keep loved ones safe because of the pandemic,” he said. 

Key products & services 

Home accessibility comprises a wide assortment of products and services to make aging in place more comfortable and navigable for patients. They range from major modifications to modest installments. 

“Ramps and chairlifts are the most highly utilized products and grab bars are in 50% to 75% of the jobs,” Greatorex said. “Bathroom remodels are a fast-growing segment, utilized as proactive and reactive needs. Walk-in showers and barrier-free basins are getting a lot of play.” 

Greatorex advocates for providers offering a full-solution menu for clients. 

“It’s the best way to be in the business,” he said. “People take on two or three categories, but this is more a solutions market. Occupational therapists and physical therapists can see where the needs are and the home construction guys can come in and do it.” 

One-stop shop 

Cindi Petito, founder of CHAS Consulting in Jacksonville Fla., is an occupational therapist and interior designer specializing in home accessibility. When considering their approach to the market, she advises providers to strive for being a one-stop shop for clients because “they would rather work with one company on everything” and to have high standards. 

“With the aging-in-place movement growing, more and more companies are jumping on the bandwagon,” she said. “A lot of them don’t know what they’re doing, so they need to know about best practices and measurable outcomes.” 

Room for everyone 

Gary Caldwell, regional vice president of sales for EZ Access’ East Region, said there are various options for providers in the market. 

“There is room for both comprehensive accessibility providers and for specialists,” he said. “Those wishing to specialize should make sure there is sufficient demand volume to sustain a specialized approach in their local market. Conversely, those offering a full portfolio of products and services need to make sure their teams can competently handle them all. Also, those offering a comprehensive slate must assure themselves that they can adequately staff all areas, both for sales and for technicians.” 

Finding the right referral sources can also provide a huge boost for business, Caldwell said. 

“Funding sources are the biggest referral sources in most areas, in addition to discharge planners,” he said. “Marketing efforts should be focused on them, in addition to market-focused digital marketing campaigns.”


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