Friday, January 28, 2011

Good News Friday!

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that tonight is Imagine!’s premier fundraising event, the 10th Annual Imagine! Celebration.  One of the highlights of the event is the Special Appeal, and the proceeds from this year’s Special Appeal will go to support Imagine!’s SmartHomes project.

I thought it would be a good time to give you an update on this ambitious project. Now that the two homes have been built, we are entering the second phase of the project, where we are testing the technology in the homes and its impact on the lives of those we serve.

Late last year, members of Imagine!’s SmartHomes team met with researchers from Colorado WIN Partners to discuss some of their findings from their year-long study involving residents of the Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome in Boulder. The researchers were looking at how the technology in the SmartHome was impacting the residents’ lives, and the results are very promising.

The overall findings matched well with the goal of our SmartHomes project. For instance, the research showed a large increase in residents’ perception of their control over their own lives. One of the key reasons for using technology was to provide the individuals served in the home the opportunity to become more independent, so we were very pleased to see this result.

Other areas where the research showed positive increases among residents included: feeling safer in their new home, feeling respected by others around them, number of personal relationships, and access to resources the residents felt they needed.

Another interesting finding, one that fits well with our goal of delivering services in a more cost effective manner, was that the increases above were noted while residents also reported a decrease in the number of services and staff interactions. Given the current state of the developmental disabilities service delivery and provision system in Colorado and the nation, that is exactly the result we are hoping for, as it demonstrates that it is possible to provide quality services even as the resources available for providing those services continue to dwindle.

The research data showed us that we still have some things to work on, though. For example, the data showed little change in how involved residents felt they were in their community. Community involvement is the cornerstone of Imagine!’s mission, and we believe that technology provides an opportunity for increasing such involvement. As more technologies go online at the SmartHome, we feel we will start seeing an increase in community involvement. But seeing the current data reminds us we still have a way to go and encourages us to redouble our efforts.

We’d like to thank the researchers from Colorado WIN Partners for their hard work and dedication. Danette Muselman and Elizabeth Woodruff, along with their research mentor Yvonne Kellar-Guenther, have provided us with a great deal of actionable data. Thanks also to I.B.M., who provided a $10,000 grant to support the research.

You can see a copy of the presentation the researchers made to I.B.M. below. You can also view a white paper detailing the study by clicking here.

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