Whether you are looking to baby proof, age in place, create an in-law suite or are living with a disability, a functional home safety assessment is one of the first steps you can take to optimize your living space. There are a variety of ways you can make your home more accessible, but to ensure the home is set up to best accommodate your lifestyle roles, routines and ability levels, ideally an assessment should be conducted by a licensed occupational therapist. By using an occupational therapist for your home project, you not only receive help in planning but also training on how to utilize the current space and anticipate potential needs in the future.
How are OT’s Trained to Perform a Functional Home Assessment?
Occupational Therapists are Health Care Professionals licensed to assist people across their lifespan both healthy and those that may manage illness or disability to participate in things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. They work with the individual to optimize the home environment relative to the individual’s abilities and promote full participation in daily life activities. OT’s are trained for in-home assessments and some receive additional training or certifications. They identify a person’s level of function and what barriers they may face within the home environment and can offer a solution based on their specific needs. OT’s work with the individual and the whole family to make recommendations for environmental design and modifications that enhance their safety and independence. They may provide education on ways to utilize modifications, new equipment, and offer suggestions to make daily activities easier to complete and safer. OT’s can also work with contractors on the build plan to assure it meets the needs of the individual, family and care partners.
What is a Functional Home Assessment?
During a functional home assessment, an Occupational Therapist will evaluate room by room for any potential barriers that may impede an individual’s ability to perform their daily activities. This helps the individual or family to plan and maintain safety in the home. OT’s will look for potential hazards that may cause falls, sensory overload for individuals with Neuro cognitive impairments, identify areas that may cause repetitive motion injuries associated with arthritis, and offer suggestions on repairs or modifications to improve function for daily activities. They may make suggestions like grab bars and handrails, non slip pads for the shower, cabinet locks, baby gates and adjustable lighting or even placement of emergency contact info for “just in case.”
Who Benefits from a Functional Home Assessment?
Functional home assessments are not just for someone with a disability, they benefit any age and are specific to each individual and those they live with. They may be done for children, unaware of potential dangers in the home. They can also be done for someone prior to surgery. Aging adults can greatly benefit from home safety assessments by identifying fall hazards and installing modifications to help with decreased mobility. An OT can help anyone that wants to create a barrier-free home, to help them feel more comfortable in the space.
In general, most people prefer to live in a space that enables them to participate in routines and hobbies without significant effort. Unfortunately not every environment supports those roles and preferences whether it be external factors or physiological limitations. Occupational therapists are highly skilled in assessing and establishing creative and cost effective solutions to empower the people they work with. Occupational therapists are valuable contributors to a remodeling and contracting team in order to facilitate the individual’s capabilities to the design project. The home is meant to be a comfortable environment, there are so many ways to keep it homey and avoid that sterile, institutional feeling! Let’s make your home functional and ease your everyday life!