Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Technology Tuesday

Today, I am pleased to share the final report of the Imagine! Remote Supports demonstration for people with intellectual disabilities. You can find the full report here, and below is the report's Executive Summary, showing that Remote Supports can cost effectively help people live independently with increased safety and self-reliance. 

Imagine! has a long standing reputation as a leader in bringing technology solutions to Long Term Care (LTC) services. One simple and obvious solution that has not been embraced by the State of Colorado is Remote Supports. Remote Supports consists of a system of sensors and devices designed to monitor a person’s environment and alert caregivers of situations that need attention. Such situations can include flooding because a sink overflowed or danger of fire because a stove was left unattended. The current Colorado Developmental Disabilities waiver system does not allow complete reimbursement for these types of supports.

Many states, such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Missouri and Connecticut will cover costs associated with a remote monitoring system including hardware, installation and monthly service fees. These states have recognized the value of using technology to support independence without sacrificing the health and safety of the individual. In an age of dwindling human resources and ever tighter Medicaid dollars the embracing of these technological supports is becoming a necessity.

In 2014, Imagine! received a commitment of $100,000 from the Aaron Matthew Tuneberg Memorial Fund to create a three-year, replicable pilot project that used technological supports to improve the safety of Colorado citizens with intellectual or developmental disabilities who are able to live independently or with limited supports in their communities.

The goal of the pilot project was to install Remote Support systems with as many individuals as possible, and to measure the systems’ effectiveness. Imagine! chose to partner with SimplyHome, a North Carolina and Wisconsin-based company that provides a system called “The Butler” to help individuals live more independently. The SimplyHome system uses a central control unit to send alerts to caregiver/s based on rules defined by the caregiver and data collected from a variety of sensors including heat, motion and water.

Over three years, Imagine! installed fifteen Butler systems in individual’s homes and assessed how these systems impacted areas of concern when it came to safety. Imagine! examined data from surveys conducted with caregivers, alert data produced from the SimplyHome system and incident reports involving individuals in the pilot. We found that overall, the SimplyHome system increased the person’s health and safety while preserving their independence. These results support what other states already know: remote supports can reduce costs of LTC and users enjoy the benefit of personal freedoms and self-reliance.

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