How to Start Your Home Modification Business With Aurora Independence
Have you wondered how, as a PT, PTA, OT, COTA/OTA or any other designation, you could start your own home modification business and how to be successful at running your own home modification business? In this article, we interviewed Dawn Heiderscheidt from Aurora Independence, a therapy and home modification business and talked with her on her success in running a business as an occupational therapist.
How to Start Your Home Modification Business With Aurora Independence:
- When you did you start your home modifications and therapy business?
In 2020, we opened our doors, at the height of the pandemic, and right after the roll-out of PDPM. The combination of those two made it impossible to find a position in another company. Many companies had laid workers off, unsure what the new payment structure would entail, and with the pandemic picking up pace, it became clear that traditional per Diem roles were going to be on hold, so Aurora Independence began, in an attempt to fill a growing need to keep people out of facilities and safety in their homes.
- How has it grown since then?
Aurora started as just me, and as a mobile med B business providing therapy. It became clear, very quickly, that it's focus and drive was more on Home Modifications and less on traditional therapy. Seniors needed support and knowledge to navigate the ever-increasing barriers to care. Since then it has shifted from a mobile therapy company, to a company focused on offering programs based on environmental modifications. We have new partnerships growing with nationwide non-profits such as Rebuilding Together and Habitat for Humanity. While expanding roles in local Non-profits offering community-based services, Aurora is the program admin for a CAPABLE program and we've grown to include 4 independent contractors who assist with grant fund.
- What inspired you to start this and especially home modifications?
I saw a need for the constant readmissions to hospitals for falls, and the needs of seniors being neglected as healthcare facilities navigated the COVID pandemic. Knowing more and more about Home Modifications made me wish I had even a small portion of this knowledge when I was caring for my own parents 10-12 years ago. Changing the space to match a client's need, and considering their future and current function, could mean the difference for clients and caregivers alike to be independent, or need escalating services. It improves the quality of life, and satisfaction, which is the heart of OT.
- What certifications did you take?
I took the Executive Certification of Home Mods (ECHM) from USC, and also the Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) through the National Association of Homebuilders. If you haven't taken the CAPS, I strongly encourage you to go here to take this fully online CAPS certification: https://www.alternativehealthcarecareers.com/homemod
- What's a day in the life look like?
Often, my morning starts with checking my email/calendar. When I see clients, my clients typically start between 10-2 pm, and I spend the afternoon writing notes. reports, or other admin work. I spent a lot of time networking phone calls/emails and tracking budgets/ materials and recommendations from the various programs Aurora Is associated with. As the CEO of the company, I act in all the roles. Active OT for all private pay clients, lead OT for the CAPABLE program, sales/marketing, community liaison, and manager for my independent contractors. Often I am checking in with clients to determine where they are in projects, and what may still be pending, and answer questions that arose while they chatted with builders, etc.
- What recommendations do you have for others interested in following in your foot steps?
I would tell people to try it out. Opening a business is not something I ever thought I would do. At this point in my life, and several careers, I can't imagine doing anything else. Get a support system, and coaches to help you along the way. Invest smartly in your certifications, and know that you don't NEED one to start, but sometimes different ones can open doors and create legitimacy for you. My portion of the country is saturated in one-day bath installers, therapy schools offering free services to expand their schooling, mobile therapists, contractors adding ADA additions, and other non-healthcare professionals who offer aging-in-place services. It can be intimidating at first. However, the more you chat with people, and the more you put yourself out there, you learn that there are SO MANY people who have needs, and while the "competition" can be fierce, my "competition" is often my greatest referral source, because I do things they can't. I bring a medical background, and a personal connection, and I often have more time than they do to spend with the "difficult" client.
- Anything else you would want to add?
Having the right support system can make or break your resolve to keep going. You don't need a large community, but getting a business bestie, or a friend who will listen and bounce ideas off can make a big difference if you are someone who often self-doubts. Local or distant, create and use your community wisely.
We hope you enjoyed this example of amazing therapists and assistants! Looking to get started in your own home modifications business? Join our online CAPS Certification program here to help launch your home modifications buisiness, it's taught by OT's who have their own business, and includes a website template as well as canva sales graphics and CEU credit: https://www.alternativehealthcarecareers.com/homemod. Please email us at [email protected] if you have any questions!
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