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Get ready for C-Caps

Get ready for C-Caps

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Get ready for C-Caps

The new Canadian aging-in-place specialist program is launching this fall.

by Elizabeth Malcolm, CHBA Communications and Social Media Officer

The oft-repeated phrase, “Demographics is Destiny” dates back to an obscure 19th century Frenchman, but it remains true today. The saying has taken on new meaning as Canada’s population goes through an unprecedented shift in age distribution.

We are all aware of the aging of Canada’s population, but both the extent of this trend, and the opportunities it opens for CHBA’s renovator members, are more significant than most of us realize.

CHBA is about to change that by launching the new Canadian Aging-in-Place Specialist program (C-CAPS) this fall. This member-service Get ready for initiative has been a high priority for CHBA’s Home Modification Council, as well as the Canadian Renovators’ Council, both of which have collaborated in its development.

Drawing on the well-established CAPS program developed in the U.S. by the National Association of Home Builders, C-CAPS is a truly Canadian version, designed and developed specifically for CHBA renovators.

The C-CAPS training and certification program aims to get out in front of a huge demographic wave on the way, and help renovators to get themselves set up to service – and capitalize on – this growing market.

The “grey wave”

According to Statistics Canada, in 2014 there were more than 6 million Canadians who were aged 65 or older, representing 15.6 percent of Canada’s population.

By 2030 – less than 11 years from now – seniors will number more than 9.5 million and make up 23 percent of Canadians.

As the chart, “Demographics are Destiny,” shows, this is the culmination of a long-term trend that has seen the number of seniors in Canada overtake the number of children, reversing a demographic relationship that had been in place since before Canada became a country.

Improved healthcare and longevity mean that someone aged 65 today can expect to live another 20 years or so. As a result, new parents today will likely have to care for their elder relatives longer than for their own children.

Between 1921 and 2005, average life expectancy at birth rose substantially in Canada, from 58.8 to 78 years for men and from 60.6 to 82.7 years for women. In all likelihood, the trend to increasing longevity will continue to swell the ranks of Canada’s senior population even further in the years ahead.

The home modification market

With so many more seniors, the key question for our industry becomes, “Where are they all going to live?”

Contrary to what many demographers forecast in the past, the overwhelming majority of Canadian seniors want to stay right where they are. They much prefer to age-in-place in a home and neighbourhood they know than to downsize into a condo or seniors-only community.

And this is where the C-CAPS program comes into the picture.

An aging population will have more complex housing needs, particularly if most seniors intend to stay put in their current home. Simply put, as we age we will inevitably encounter a range of mobility and other health-related challenges. Challenges our homes were not designed to accommodate easily.

So aging-in-place will require modifications to our homes that respond to our specific needs and challenges – mobility and otherwise. And everyone’s needs will be somewhat unique.

Delivering these modifications will require an industry that has the knowledge and the professional connections to do the job right.

That’s what C-CAPS will provide to Association renovators: technical and design training, product and material knowledge, and a solid understanding of who they need to have on their team to deliver high-quality results.

CHBA is also developing a consumer website to provide information to the public about aging-in-place, available home modification grants and assistance, and to promote C-CAPS renovators.

How big is this market? If we include mobility assistance devices and other products designed to support aging-in-place, estimates range up to $30 billion per year. And growing.

Not just another renovation

While many seniors needing home modifications may well have had previous renovation work done on their home, they will need an expert with specialized knowledge and experience to help them age-in-place. And until now, finding such professionals has been extremely difficult.

Home modifications involve a very specialized range of skills. Obviously, the renovator must know about how the physical space needs to be designed, and how to integrate and install mobility assistance and other devices and products.

But home modification also involves other professionals, like occupational therapists (OTs), who are critical in developing a modification plan that addresses homeowners’ specific needs, both today and in the future. Collaborating with OTs, designers, architects, and building officials requires a different approach than is typical in general renovations. In many cases, health authorities and insurers may also need be part of the team.

The C-CAPS approach

Earning a C-CAPS designation will require training. The CHBA program involves a prerequisite online course with subsequent in-class sessions, both of which will include testing.

Successful completion of both parts of the course will earn you your C-CAPS certificate. An additional online training module focusing on marketing and sales for business owners will also be available.

As the course rolls out, CHBA expects to introduce continuing education requirements for C-CAPS renovators to keep everyone up-to-date as many things in this area are changing fast in terms of technology improvements, especially in the area of electronics and networked medical devices.

Why being ahead of the curve matters

Clearly, C-CAPS will position CHBA renovators as the go-to professionals for those needing aging-in-place home modifications. In fact, it opens up a new upselling opportunity for anyone doing a renovation project for homeowners who expect to age-in-place, but currently have no mobility issues. And it will create significant business opportunities for C-CAPS renovators to work with other healthcare professionals, such as OTs.

Perhaps most importantly, it will provide consumers with a reliable way to identify competent home modification professionals. Seniors have long been targetted by unscrupulous contractors, and C-CAPS will help reduce this problem.

Finally, by helping to make aging-in-place a more practical option for older Canadians, Canada’s healthcare system will benefit tremendously. Too often, seniors end up in an assisted living facility long before necessary, simply because they can no longer cope in their homes. The public cost of such unnecessary institutionalization is immense, and likely not sustainable.

Creating a national group of professional C-CAPS renovators is a major step in addressing this problem.

For updates, email C-CAPS@chba.ca

Elizabeth Malcolm, CHBA Communications and Social Media Officer


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Finance: Retirement

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Finance: Retirement

Not necessarily a personal choice

When it comes to saving for retirement, it’s recommended to save 10 per cent of your after-tax income from the day that you start working full time. If you do this, you should have enough money to retire at the age of 65.

A new report finds that a growing number of Canadian seniors are working longer, retiring with debt, and don’t have access to work place pensions. A national survey was commissioned by Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC) and Credit Canada. It spoke to 1,000 seniors over the age of 60, and asked them about their personal finance issues.

Working longer

In Canada, 20 per cent of Canadian residents are still working past the age of 60. Of great concern are the six per cent who are 80 years of age, or older. More than 30 per cent said that they had to work longer, because they couldn’t afford to retire. One in eight said that they had too much debt, and had to keep working to pay it off. Another 30 per cent said that they didn’t have enough savings. Some 12 per cent said that they couldn’t stop working, because they were still financially supporting their children.

More and more seniors are feeling financially insecure as they get closer to retirement.

Debt, debt and more debt

Out of those who were surveyed, 26 per cent said that they were in debt as they approached their retirement. Credit card debt lead the way at 32 per cent, followed by lines of credit (23 per cent), mortgage debt (19 per cent) and auto loans (14 per cent). Of those seniors who were over the age of 80, 24 per cent were carrying credit card debt, and nine per cent were carrying a car loan.

Workplace pensions

More Canadians are coming up to retirement with no workplace pension whatsoever, and even fewer have the coveted defined benefit plan that gives them a guaranteed pension throughout their retirement. Of those surveyed by the FPSC, 50 per cent of seniors, over the age of 80, listed a company pension plan as a source of income. Only 41 per cent of younger seniors (60 to 69) had a workplace pension.

Financial insecurity

More and more seniors are feeling financially insecure as they get closer to retirement, and more than half of those surveyed said that they had at least one financial concern. One in four are worried that they will run out of money before they die, and the same percentage are worried about the cost of long-term care. On top of this, many are worried that they won’t be able to manage their debt, and that they will have to sell their home or rely on their children, in order to make ends meet.

Positive steps

Take advantage of all the government benefits that are due to you, if you’re in a lower income bracket. Make sure that your annual tax return is tax efficient, so that you’re paid the maximum benefits possible. If you’re still living in the home where you raised children, downsizing will allow you to take advantage of the equity that you’ve built up, so that you can invest it wisely for your retirement. If worried about your finances, you can still get on a financial track that will be helpful to your personal situation.

Rubina Ahmed-Haq is a journalist, personal finance expert and HPG’s finance editor. She appears on CBC TV and radio, CTV Your Morning, Global Toronto, and writes for ratesupermarket.ca. Follow her @alwayssavemoney. AlwaysSaveMoney.ca

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Aging in Place

Aging in Place

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Aging in Place

by Michael Moskowitz

To prepare for the impending wave of seniors Canada needs to rethink how it supports the aging population.

Aging is a complex topic. And where much of the debate is often spent focused on the healthcare spending implications, there are many other elements that need to be explored. For example, isolation of seniors has real implications for our society. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, social connection should be a public health priority. As our population continues to age, the result will be a dramatic greying of Canada’s demography – one that has implications for housing, the healthcare system, national economy and government policy.

To prepare for this impending wave of seniors – the largest cohort ever according to Statistics Canada – Canada needs to rethink how it supports the aging population through the implementation of functional housing and care solutions that will allow them to thrive within their communities.

By 2031, nearly one in four Canadians will be over the age of 65. Thankfully we can look to other nations who are grappling with this situation. In Japan this demographic shift will happen over next 10 to 20 years. Because Japan’s government, businesses and society are facing these challenges earlier than North American countries, we can learn and benefit from their innovations and technology and start considering how we can better serve our seniors.

In fact, as the Japanese recognized isolation would have a negative impact on its large senior population, a steady increase in retirement communities emerged throughout the country. Not simply homes, communities. City planning and design has a focus on senior support, which better enables elders and healthcare workers to lead healthier lives.

A recent report from Senior Care Canada examined senior care in Japan, highlighting how the government has worked hard to quickly problem solve and create solutions as demand for senior care services has grown. In addition to implementing innovative products to assist the elderly and their caregivers, they have also restructured resources, such as schools that were no longer required, to convert them to care and community centres for seniors. This has translated into a better quality of life.

How can Canada learn from this model?

As a society we need to learn how to design for purpose and function, not just the lowest cost. By investing in innovative solutions that will enable our seniors to thrive, we are providing a strong foundation for them to maintain their health, lifestyle and independence.

Panasonic recognized the importance of merging the various aspects of caregiver services with housing solutions and the positive impact it could have on Japanese senior citizens and healthcare workers, and created a functional facility in Owada called Age-Free Life.

Uniquely, Age-Free Life was designed by “living environment planners” who fully understand both architecture and nursing care. By employing this level of expertise, Panasonic has built long-term relationships of trust by providing home remodeling services for nursing care based on construction circumstances and the physical conditions of the individual.

By increasing the synergistic effect, Age-Free Life better enables Japan’s seniors to thrive and lead healthy lives in their golden years while decreasing the strain on social and healthcare services.

While the example in Japan is on a large scale, there are smaller scale things we can look at as we prepare for the pending wave of seniors in our nation. We can look at how homes are designed and built to ensure that seniors can live at home longer – from storage to accessibility support. Looking at residential care, can we invest in products that help our healthcare workers provide care that will not harm their bodies as well?

What Canadians can extract from Japan’s model is the duty private industries and the government have to prepare for changes in our demographics.

It is more important than ever to invest in infrastructure, products and services that will help seniors remain independent, while ensuring healthcare workers are supported. Architects and builders need to evaluate and anticipate the needs of Canadian seniors, to ensure sustainable housing is in place.

We need to rethink our approach to support the aging population by implementing functional housing and care solutions that will allow seniors to thrive, before senior care becomes a healthcare or financial crisis.

Michael Moskowitz is president of Panasonic Canada.


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