Interview with Terry Helland, Home Modifications Division consultant, Knueppel HealthCare Services PART I
Terry Helland has worked in the rehabilitation and medical services industry for 26 years. He is credentialed as a Certified Environmental Access Consultant (C. E. A. C.).
BLOG: Terry, how long have you worked at KHS?
HELLAND: I have been with Knueppel’s since 2006. I previously managed the Rehab Department, but then two years ago took on our Home Modifications Division. It has been an exciting and challenging change, but I find all my past experience feeds into every recommendation I make to people and every job we do.
BLOG: What are “home modifications”?
HELLAND: “Home modifications” is a catch-all phrase that includes any changes made to a home environment that make it safer and easier to get around in. It’s really all about quality of life. Home modifications might include the installation of assistive equipment or any structural change that allows people to stay safe and independent in their homes as they age. They are primarily meant for people with disabilities and those wishing to “age in place,” as we say in the industry.
BLOG: How does one go about deciding if a home modification is appropriate?
HELLAND: Well, let’s look at independence and safety. The first goals usually are to maintain the independence of the individual or couple and to prevent injuries. The Baby Boomer population is starting to reach retirement age and whether they want to admit it or not, they are going to need some help around the house. If someone is still living in their own home where they have raised their family and want to stay there as they are getting older, or age in place, they might need to make some modifications, make sure they are safe. They love their home, but can’t get around in it like they used to…or they realize there are areas that have become unsafe for them, that’s where we come in. We have a comprehensive home safety checklist that highlights all the potential safety risks in the home. Sometimes there are areas people may not have considered as unsafe.
BLOG: If someone just needs a little help, what are some economical ways to make things easier?
HELLAND: The first thing we would do would be to try to make the bathroom safer. If one in three adults 65 and older falls each year, and the bathroom is where the majority of falls take place, then let’s do something about it. Grab bars come in all shapes and sizes and are a great way to make people feel more secure as they use the bathtub, shower and toileting area. To make faucets easier to turn on and off we can install lever-operated faucets. Good bathmats and transfer benches make standing and transitioning safer. Even a tub bench can make taking a shower or bath safer and more accessible.