Susan Bachner on Facebook


Q. I see that Susan’s background is in Occupational Therapy — What does that have to do with home modifications?

A. Occupational therapists are trained to understand the medical issues associated with physical, cognitive and emotional challenges. Understanding how these challenges impact a person’s ability to function safely and meaningfully in activities of daily living (ADL) or occupations is at the core of the occupational therapist’s contribution to the home modification team.  Susan listens to what an individual wants and needs; evaluates the ability to  perform; and in turn, takes a good look at how environmental barriers are affecting the person’s functioning in the home. Bathrooms and kitchens, for example, are areas frequently requiring home modification consultation services – with a focus that allows people to remain safe, comfortable and as independent as possible. In addition to working directly with clients in the home, Susan also consults with architects, designers and other building professionals to provide information useful to successful planning for their clients.

Q. When is the right time to call for Susan’s help?

A. At any point in life, an individual might develop special needs that make the old routines or spaces difficult. When these needs are noted, no matter how subtle they may be, is the best time for Susan to be called. Too often, Susan is called in after people have struggled without appropriate guidance and signs of the client’s overwhelmed feelings and inappropriate decisions are painfully obvious. Adapting a space and utilizing objects to accomplish a better fit between the environment and personal needs is often a viable alternative to reduce stress. Additionally, if new construction is planned, Susan’s input at the development stage is far more effective in reaching a successful outcome and often less costly than if her help is sought when the project is well underway. Some choices, like windows, walls and doors, as well as bathroom and kitchen elements must be determined at the outset. Planning ahead and making some changes to the home environment earlier rather than later will do a great deal to enable an individual to stay where he or she would most like to be – at home.

Q. Does Susan ever recommend options other than renovations?

A. Susan also specializes in recommending products or devices that promote greater ease and accessibility while performing activities of daily living involving self-care, work or leisure. Sometimes, the right product can eliminate the need for renovations. Every once in a while, Susan encounters a situation where it just makes sense to move – she will be honest and discuss relocation as an option.

Q. Do all home modification consultants have sufficient training and hold appropriate certifications?

A. Many people claim to be home modification consultants. While often meaning well, some of these consultants lack the proper training. However, Susan’s qualifications are unique: She has worked for more than 40 years as an occupational therapist, she is a Certified Environmental Access Consultant (CEAC) and she has earned the National Association of Home Builder's designation, Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS) and achieved the Specialty Certification in Environmental Modification (SCEM) from the American Occupational Therapy Association.  Additionally, Susan is a frequent speaker for medically focused associations, groups of building professionals, groups of rehabilitation therapists, groups of Gerontologists, groups of Case Managers and other stake holders on issues relating to home modifications that facilitate the job of living. Susan was a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association's Environmental Modification's Certification Panel which served under the Commission on Continuing Competence and Professional Development.  The purpose of this body was to identify and then mandate the basic competencies to be demonstrated by an occupational therapist providing environmental modification services.