Trio of Charles Lea clients enjoying freedom, new home

Anthony Rogers, left, and Nathan Branch are shown in the den of their new home, which was decorated for Christmas by a garden club.


Published: Friday, December 21, 2012 at 3:15 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 5:08 p.m.

Nathan Branch rolled into his bedroom with a wide smile across his face.

“Welcome to my humble abode,” the 18-year-old said.

On a recent Monday, Branch, who uses a wheelchair because of a number of physical disabilities. showed off his televisions and his Nintendo Wii game system, which is “where the fun happens,” he said. He showed off pictures of his girlfriend and the teddy bear she got him last Christmas.

But perhaps most significantly, he showed off how he can manipulate almost everything in his new home with the press of a button, either on his wheelchair, a band around his wrist or an iPad.

“Living here is awesome,” Branch said. “I can pretty much do anything by myself. I can get in the shower, I can get in and out of the bed by myself. I can brush my teeth, watch TV.”

It’s great to be home for the holidays.

And for him and his roommates Anthony Rogers and Bobby Cornelius, this feeling is better than ever.

In August, the three men, all who use wheelchairs, moved into a home together where they live more independently than ever before.

The house, which is in Cowpens, is a part of the Charles Lea Center’s Residential Services program, in which adult clients with special needs are put into homes that use SimplyHome, made by a North Carolina-based company.

SimplyHome designs and installs wireless technology products geared toward the aging and disabled. The doors open with the push of a button, and the cabinets, microwave and sink in the kitchen are all lower so the men can access them in wheelchairs.

“The guys seem very happy with this arrangement,” said Dr. Jerry Bernard, executive director of the Charles Lea Center.

The Charles Lea Center Residential Program started in 1977 with two group homes for 16 individuals. During the past 35 years, the residential program has grown dramatically to become one of the largest of its kind in the state, according to a news release.

While a caregiver does stay in the home with Nathan, Anthony and Bobby 24 hours a day, the caregiver doesn’t always have to be with the residents.

Anthony Rogers, a huge South Carolina Gamecocks fan — demonstrated by the garnet paint on his bedroom wall — enjoys the liberty of being able to go into his room and watch ESPN on his TV.

“I like having my own place,” he said.

Having a room full of his own things, with walls lined with baseball caps of his favorite sports teams, “means a lot,” he added.

Bernard said it’s great how well the group of guys get along and interact with each other.

Decked out for holidays

And what’s a home in December without decorations?

With Christmas approaching, seven or eight members of the Lady Slipper Garden Club came into the home last week and put up a Christmas tree, wreaths and other decorations.

“We are a garden club that does a lot of volunteer work,” said Patsy Price, chairwoman of the club’s garden therapy. “It feels wonderful for us to help out, and the men just loved it. They were just thrilled.”

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Giving Back

Screen Shot 2012-12-10 at 9.50.04 AM This month CEPro shared the industry’s stories of charity. SimplyHome was features for its No Place Like Home Program, a partnership between SimplyHome and Eblen Charities that offers individuals access to the assistive technology and home automation they need to live independently at home.

We are honored to be recognized and encourage our friends, all of you, to contribute to the No Place Like Home fund, if you can this holiday season. The article features the first ever family to receive technology through the program. It was a mother and her second-grade son who has autism. The mother was looking for a GPS tracking device because the school has lost him so many times due to elopement.

Click HERE to Donate to the No Place Like Home Fund

Click HERE to Read the Full Article in the Giving Issue (SimplyHome Featured on Page 56)Screen Shot 2012-12-10 at 9.49.24 AM

SimplyHome, LLC Receives the 2012 Stephen E. Sallee Award of Excellence for Assistive Technology

The North Carolina Assistive Technology Program Grand Advisory Council awards SimplyHome, LLC for their significant contribution to the field of Assistive Technology.


The Grant Advisory Council of the NC Assistive Technology Program recognizes individuals, professionals, and organizations that have made significant contributions to the lives of people with disabilities through their efforts in the field of assistive technology.

awardSimplyHome is honored to be acknowledged for our contribution to furthering access to assistive technology devices and services for North Carolina citizens with disabilities.

SimplyHome defined an entirely new market and use for assistive technology. Beginning in 2003, when home automation technologies mostly catered to security needs and making life more comfortable and convenient, Allen Ray realized an opportunity to give greater independence and improved quality of life to individuals with disabilities while passing on the savings to state Medicaid plans and individual families.

“We are humbled to receive this award and inspired to make a difference in as many lives as possible. We especially recognize that this is a team effort, ” says Allen Ray, SimplyHome CEO.

SimplyHome has helped transform Medicaid reimbursement methodologies in several states through their proven high quality care delivered at a fraction of the traditional care delivery methods. SimplyHome’s application of technology, paired with appropriate caregiver supports, has single-handedly enhanced the care and options of people who are aging or have a disability.

“We have worked very hard the past 10 years to use assistive technology to improve the quality of life for persons challenged by aging concerns or disability and to remain fiscally responsible. We are thrilled and privileged to receive this award,” says Drue Ray, SimplyHome Vice President.

The Gift of Love

This time of year brings with it visits to family near and far.  The holidays offer us the opportunity to connect with people we haven’t seen in awhile and also check in on how loved ones are doing.

As family members age, we often see distinct changes in health and living patterns from visit to visit, and we may become concerned with their level of independence.  What indicators might suggest that loved ones need assistance or technology for aging in place?

  • Change in physical appearance—Have they lost or gained a noticeable amount of weight?  Are they taking care of their general appearance such as being dressed neatly or brushing their hair?
  • Changes in routine—Are they engaging in their regular eating, toileting, and bathing activities?  Have they become more sedentary?  Do they avoid certain activities due to pain or disinterest?
  • Changes in social status—Have they become more isolated?  Do they find excuses for avoiding activities outside of the home that used to be meaningful to them?
  • Changes in mood—Do they seem more irritable, withdrawn, sad, or quiet?  Are conversations reduced to simple yes/no responses?  Do they refute everything you say, OR do they agree to everything because it’s easier?
  • Changes in health—Do they have any noticeable memory, ambulation, or speech issues?  Are they refusing medical care, OR are they accessing more medical care than before?  Are they taking too much or too little medication?

photo(4)Granted, not all of these issues indicate that individuals need to move to assisted living   With the number of wellness products and sensor systems in the market today, technology can provide dignified and affordable solutions for aging in place.

  • Medication dispensers can remind individuals when it is time to take medication as well as be linked to a care center that can notify family, if needed
  • Wellness monitoring tools such as blood pressure cuffs, glucose monitors, and pulse oximeters collect health data in confidential online health files and send notifications should an individual’s status exceed the predetermined thresholds
  • Wireless sensor systems utilize door/window contacts, bed pressure pads, and even stove sensors to promote independence with activities of daily living

While conversations around these concerns can be difficult, I often encourage families to have them sooner rather than later.  Being proactive offers individuals the opportunity to have a plan in place without having to make impulsive decisions if a crisis occurs.

Cameron Kempson, M.Ed.

Cameron is the Client Care and Education Specialist with SimplyHome.  She has worked with families in the fields of aging and disabilities for more than 20 years.