Few things in life are more comforting than being home. But when the layout and features of a home become less comfortable, even potentially dangerous, it seriously impacts our quality of life. The design and functionality of a home have real effects on our health.

Recently I visited with People Working Cooperatively (PWC) to discuss its new Whole Home Innovation Center. Whole Home is a service of PWC designed to help people who are aging and people with disabilities live independently through home modifications. Its Innovation Center is a showroom and education center displaying home remodeling products and providing learning opportunities to help people prepare for the future and ease their transitions.

The Whole Home Innovation Center embodies the idea of life-long, life-wide and life-deep learning. As we age or are faced with a sudden disability and our needs change, we learn how to adapt to what our bodies and minds will allow. But understanding those changing needs and learning how to cope with them can be challenging.

That’s where Whole Home comes in. Whole Home’s highly trained professionals understand their customers’ needs and are committed to providing the knowledge, products and services they need to live safely and independently in their homes. The staff believes – as do I – that achieving the highest possible level of independence will lead to a fulfilled, content and dignified life. And it’s the key to creating inclusive, dynamic communities, as well. It’s a win-win.

So what does that look like? The Innovation Center includes an example of a home complete with a façade, living room, bathroom and kitchen. Each space includes products and modifications – such as grab bars, walk-in bathtubs, automated pocket doors, wheelchair-height countertops and access ramps – so people can experience the products in a home-like setting. Before and after demonstrations compare an existing home to what it could be with the right modifications in place. Whole Home volunteers place a great deal of emphasis on training both clients and their family members how to care for themselves and their loved ones. (It’s worth noting Whole Home isn’t associated with a specific manufacturer or brand, meaning the solutions its team recommends are offered with the client’s best interests in mind.)

Whole Home’s efforts to deliver personalized services and home modifications as well as personalized education hit close to home at SHP. We believe in acknowledging each person’s unique needs and providing them with opportunities that allow them to live with dignity and flourish as human beings. I can think of no better example for our aging and disabled population than a center specifically designed with dignity and flourishing in mind.

SHP is proud to work with Whole Home on the Innovation Center to show that safe, functional home modifications can still be attractive and fit into the overall design of a home. More importantly, we’re excited to play a role in developing a center that will help educate community members at critical points throughout their lives.

Learn more about Whole Home at www.wholehome.org.