Innovative Services’ Rick Bahr Discusses Rural Residential Living Community

We had the opportunity to sit down with Innovative Services’ Chief Operating Officer Rick Bahr to discuss an exciting new program that shows how SimplyHome technology combined with a dedicated caregiving staff can help disabled people find independence and meaningful work. You may have read SimplyHome VP Drue Ray’s article about her dream of The Farm–a rural residential community for people with special needs. Mr. Bahr helped make this dream a reality.

Rick Bahr, COO of Innovative Services.

About two weeks ago, Innovative Services received news that their proposal for a rural, agricultural-vocational residential program had been approved by grantors to move on to the planning stages. It was an idea at least four years in the works, and Rick Bahr was thrilled to finally see it begin to take shape.

“With our growth in central Wisconsin, our referrals had begun to request ways to meet our clients’ needs in a more cost-effective way,” Mr. Bahr said.

We wanted to combine concepts of a high-needs residential program with agricultural and vocational work.”

The program will likely house about eight special-needs individuals in a series of duplexes that allow independent living with the comfort of a trained caregiving staff seconds away.

Although farm living communities are not a new concept, Mr. Bahr hopes that by combining a specialized program with advanced assisted living technology, this project will be a model for replication around the country.

“Providing support for individuals with high-intense needs can cost up to $2,500 a day, which translates to about $1 million annually,” he says. “We can reduce cost and increase an individual’s independence from staff agitation while reducing the cost with technology.”

It’s based upon the interest of [special needs] people to choose a service different from the offerings that have been always been provided.”

Mr. Bahr added that the program is consistent with the idea that all people–regardless of ability–should have the opportunity to find meaningful work and live as independently as possible.

“If you have a staff person with you 24 hours a day, that is not independence no matter where you live,” he says. “This will be an environment with staff support, yes, but they won’t always be with the people in their homes.”

SimplyHome’s assisted living technology will play a big role in the program as well.

“SimplyHome’s system creates a cost-effective residential environment–it makes the entire program achievable,” he adds.

The SimplyHome technology will help the individuals enjoy greater independence, he says.

“The technology allows us to have adequate supports in place without having to have a person in the home 24 hours a day. Staff can respond within seconds if need be, but the technology creates significant efficiencies in staff without impacting the level of independence for people in their homes.”

Bahr said that the community program is slated to begin on November 1, 2011. Planners are still looking for the right piece of land and designing the various buildings.

When finished, the residents will move in and begin work that brings them back to the land.

“A regular day will be gardening produce, learning car restoration and mechanical skills, cutting wood, and doing all types of labor that’s associated with living on a farm,” Bahr says.

And Bahr is pleased that Drue Ray’s lifelong dream is coming true.

“Drue’s heart is in this program. Improving the quality of life for people is her biggest excitement.”

Watch this video for more on how Innovative Services is already utilizing technology to empower independence.

The Farm: When a Dream Becomes Reality

THE FARM: When a Dream Becomes Reality

By Drue Ray, Vice President of SimplyHome

Allen Ray (CEO of SimplyHome) and Drue Ray (Vice President) spending some time outdoors.

I was about 13 when I noticed the abandoned country school my family and I passed en route to away high school football games near Pine Level, Alabama. Set back from the highway, it had tall windows, limestone walls, and was surrounded by acres of yellow long-leaf pines. The scene drew me in and sparked dreams. The more I saw the tired ole school, the more convinced I became that it would be the perfect place for a farm! The schoolhouse would become the bunkhouse and mess hall; the surrounding property was big enough for a garden and chicken coop. Surely there was a pond somewhere nearby. In my mind, people with special needs would live on the farm. It would be a place where wheelchairs, ramps and adaptive equipment would be as natural as a tractor or vegetable patch.

As the years passed, the dream stayed with me. I found myself talking about the farm whenever the “what would you do if you won the lottery” question came up in conversation. And after years of wishing for it, it all became a reality. My Innovative Services gave it wings when their response to a Request for Proposal (RFP) was approved by the grantor and planning began on this project. The proposal outlines the creation of an agricultural-based program for people with mental, intellectual, developmental and/or physical disabilities. The program’s main goal will be to foster maximum independence for each individual. SimplyHome’s assistive living technology is a major factor in achieving this goal.

The staff of My Innovative Services took pleasure in surprising me with news of the award. I’m sure there was a betting pool on how long it would take for me to dissolve into tears (if you had 87 seconds, you win!). It is a rare and overwhelming experience when a group of dedicated professionals takes a leap of faith because they believe in the power of dreams. True, none of us know much about farming, composting, vermiculture (worm farming), chickens, goats, fences, feed or farm equipment. But we do understand the sense of self-worth that arises in every person able to live independently while contributing value to their community.

Drue Ray is the Vice President of SimplyHome, LLC, an assisted living technology company in Asheville, NC, which grew out of Community Management Initiative’s association with Innovative Services, Inc. SimplyHome provides non-invasive monitoring technology that allows elderly and disabled people to maintain independence and dignity while simultaneously providing peace of mind for their concerned loved ones. The “age in place” technology is a responsible alternative to assisted living; it helps reduce the financial burden on families by minimizing the need for in-home care providers.

To learn more about SimplyHome and to request a free assessment, visit or call 828-684-8441 to speak personally about how our products can help improve the lives of your loved ones.  Later this week you will hear from Innovative Services’ COO Rick Bahr as he discusses with us the rural residential living community.

SimplyHome System

We currently offer two levels of systems, our PERS Plus and our SimplyHome System. The PERS Plus is our entry level system that uses a phone line to activate a notification to our EMT call center should you have a need.

Our SimplyHome System builds on this to also include various sensors around the home to notify family members, caregivers, or our EMT Call Center should something happen or not happen around the home. For example, we have a stove sensor that can notify someone if the stove comes on or if it is on for a certain amount of time. So, if you have concerns about cooking safety you can have a notification go out if the stove has been on for more than 20 or 30 minutes. Also, we have a back-end website that allows you to see events as they happen, see historical information, and control things like lights or the stove that has been left on. Please visit or website at

SimplyHome Personal Emergency Response System Plus

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