Finding Independence and Saving for the Future in NC

David and his mom



David Maennle is an accomplished young man who directly benefits from assistive technology in North Carolina. David’s chosen lifestyle — living independently in the community with the help of technology — saves the State of North Carolina almost $80,000 per year.

David was born with an intellectual disability, but as his mother Becky says, “He is able to do everything that he puts his mind to. He just does it a bit differently.” David currently has a job and is saving for his dream of building his own log cabin. He rents his own apartment and is able to apply the independent living skills he learned at Western Carolina University.

The use of SimplyHome’s sensors and verbal prompts enable David to:

  • Cook his own meals and be notified if he leaves the stove on.
  • Complete a morning routine of self-care, eating breakfast, taking medication, and tidying up before going to work at a scheduled time.
  • Receive a verbal reminder to close and lock the doors.
  • Access help quickly if needed.


Increasing Independence in a Cost-Effective Way

The SimplyHome technology David uses has two components: an annual monitoring fee and a one-time fee for the technology itself:

  • $779.40 annual monitoring fee
  • $6,827 one-time cost for customized SimplyHome System

David’s use of this technology reduces his living costs, enabling him to take advantage of additional supports such as supported employment, in-home skill building and personal care for $80,055 per year. Altogether his living supports total $87,661.

If David were not using technology, he would not have access to these supports. Institutional home care costs would be $60,794 per year and group home rates would be $105,495 per year. That comes to a total of $166,290 per year, which nearly doubles the cost of living in his own home.

The chart below contrasts the annual costs for David’s supports if he were in a group home and receiving day supports, with the annual costs for his more independent lifestyle of living in his own apartment.


Comparison Chart



David lives a fully-immersed life on his own terms, including working for the local EMS, cooking his own meals, and saving for his “Vision”: building his own log cabin, driving his own red truck, and owning a blue-tick hound.

Without the assistance of technology, so much independence and integration into the community would not be possible.


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To learn more about David’s story and to get a tour of his home, watch the “David’s Vision” video.


You can also learn more by checking out David’s Facebook page.



Funding is available for individuals in North Carolina to afford to live independently with the use of assistive technology. The NC Innovations Waiver provides funding to local management entities and managed care organizations.  The services provided through the waiver empower individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to:

  • Choose where they live
  • Choose how they spend their time and what they do to be connected to the community
  • Self-direct or manage their supports
  • Support their own growth
  • Obtain access to the adaptive technology they need to live in their community
NC Innovations Waiver Quick Facts*
  • Individual cost limit / reimbursement rate in NC: $135k (maximum)
  • Innovations Waiver cost limit / reimbursement rate for NC per individual: $60k
  • Annual average cost of institutional care in NC: $120k
  • As of October 2016:
    • Waiver Slots: 12,488
    • Current Wait List: 10,000 individuals

*From The Division of Medical Assistance, Community Based Services (North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services)


Want to explore other ways that technology can empower independence? Contact SimplyHome at 877.684.3581 or email
































New York: Assistive Technology

NY state

How does assistive technology benefit individuals and providers?   Our partner Rick Bahr from Innovative Services, Inc. is addressing the question this week at the South Dakota 2016 Creating Possibilities Conference: Inspiring Creative Minds.  Joining Rick is a New York-based provider we serve, Innovative Resources for Independence (IRI).

IRI is one of 18 providers in NY already utilizing SimplyHome technology to support independence.  IRI opened their first supportive apartment in Brooklyn in 2012.  Today, close to 20 percent of their home residents are living in apartments. With use of the latest technology, staff is immediately alerted to any unusual activity, such as if a front door is left open in the middle of the night, or a stove is left on unattended.

This video demonstrates how SimplyHome technology has helped individuals at IRI live independently.

Wildwood Programs, also located in NY, has transitioned 16 people over the last four years to more independent living settings. On average each year, they have seen $39,000 savings per person. Annually, that is $624,000 in savings for 16 individuals.  By adding assistive technology where applicable, they have already begun expanding the savings and independence.

NY - 74 percent

United Cerebral Palsy of New York City, Inc. (UCP of NYC) are using staff at one location 21 hours per week, versus 24/7, saving them at least $3,000 per month.

Ability Beyond is seeing significant savings  - Their Clapboard program (serving eight individuals), is saving $3.99 for every $1 spent in their first year of using technology. After the first year, they are saving $11.23.  The overall savings after the first year is approximately $8,752.  

Their Liberty program (serving four individuals), is saving $9.05 for every $1 spent in the first year of using technology.  After the first year, they are saving $82.05 for every $1 spent. The below chart demonstrates their overall savings.

NY - Dollars Saved

Who is using the technology?

Jane is 57 years old and lives in a supportive apartment since February 2013.  Each day she demonstrates that she needs minimal supervision.  When she is not working, Jane enjoys cooking, spending time at church or going to the casino for a little escape.

Thomas longed for and even demanded an apartment of his own.  With some very simple supports for front door activity, cooking safety and medication supports, he has made a remarkable transition to his apartment that he shares with a roommate.

George has a history of unstable blood pressure. To help him monitor his health, a telehealth blood pressure cuff (which he operates himself), communicates readings to the nurse immediately if the readings are out of a specified range. The nurse can then analyze trends.

NY - Quote

Implementing Technology: How One Provider Moved Past the Residential Supports Waiting List

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 1.44.51 PMMore than 9,000 individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities are on a waiting list for residential supports, with no funding available. As a proactive response to this dilemma, one S.C. provider decided to move toward implementing technology throughout their programs.

Charles Lea Center (CLC): CLC began creating programs with technology in 2010 as an effort to offer people with disabilities an opportunity to develop skills, promote independence and empower people to live in their own homes. Since then, SimplyHome has continued to work with CLC to help them employ and benefit from the efficacy of such technology. In order to provide new independent living options, customized supports were designed for the residents based on each individual’s daily routine and priorities.

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The programs at CLC now offer individual support teams, person-centered planning, technology, remote monitoring (safety, health and security), and specific skills training for individuals and staff.

• Today, 100% of CLC’s programs offer technology & 93% of the clients supported utilize the technology.

6 new programs have been created over the course of 6 years.

• Using technology, CLC is able to provide support for their clients costing approximately $100 per day, per individual. Without technology, this cost would be approximately $200 per day.

• As of March 2016, savings generated through the use of technology has enabled 20 new individuals to be supported by CLC – without any additional state dollars.

• In a recent survey, when CLC residents were asked if they felt safe in their homes, 100% said yes.

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Which SimplyHome Technology Has Been Implemented?

SimplyHome System
• Panic Sensors: Pendants worn by residents, allowing them to push a button requesting help from staff 24/7.

• Motion Sensors: Creates an alert at night if someone leaves their bed and does not return within a specific amount of time.

• Door/Window Sensors: Placed on all exterior doors and bedroom windows to notify staff of entry/exit during day and night hours.

• Water Sensors: Alerts 24/7 and typically used in the bathroom to alert in case of water overflowing.

• Cameras: One camera is located in a common area to help responding staff triage an issue or alert before they are on-site.

• Medication Dispensers: Can dispense medication up to four times per day at customizable times.

SimplyHome Environmental Controls
• Integrated Tablets & Mounts: Assists in managing the temperature of the residence, doors, TV, and lights. Through various available interfaces, individuals control their environment by using the touch screen, voice activation or a switch.

Phone Paging System & Response Center
• Phone Paging System: To create the fastest response and best overall experience, CLC uses our two-way voice paging system in each room of the home via the resident’s telephone. Remote staff can instantly talk with a resident with the push of a button, without the individual having to answer the phone. Should the individual get out of bed and not return, or call for help, the responding staff can have open communication in a matter of seconds.

• Response Center: Staff members are utilized as a team of responders for alerts generated by sensor activity. The staff have two response cell phones and a computer on-site dedicated to monitoring and following-up on the alerts.

Charles Lea Center of Spartanburg SC is Utilizing Supportive Technology to Serve Individuals With Greater Independence, Better Outcomes and Increased Cost Effectiveness

With the use of SimplyHome technology, the Charles Lea Center of Spartanburg, South Carolina is able to serve disabled individuals who would otherwise be on ever-growing waiting list.

Asheville, NC (PRWEB) July 25, 2012

As Medicaid provider budgets become increasingly constrained, remote monitoring technology is emerging as a way to control costs and improve service outcomes. Supportive living environments can be managed by technology that detects potential problems such as falls, missed medications, cooking safety, and elopement.

The same support systems that allow staff to attend to individual concerns also enable consumers to live with greater choice and build skills of independent living. As funding sources realize cost savings through effective programs, they are able to serve individuals who would otherwise be on ever-growing waiting lists.

SimplyHome partner, The Charles Lea Center of Spartanburg, SC, recently celebrated the grand opening of its new Life Skills Center. An apartment within the training center is outfitted with SimplyHome technology.

“The partnership with SimplyHome has enabled people with disabilities to live as we do, independently,” says Jeff Ballenger, the Charles Lea Center Sr. Director of Residential Supports. The Life Skills Center is a hands-on training facility that prepares adults with special needs for residential and community independence.

“We believe this is just the beginning of a shift in how providers will utilize technology in their service models,” says Allen Ray, SimplyHome CEO. “The Charles Lea Center’s willingness to be the front runner for the use of our technology in a program setting has allowed them to serve more people with the funds that are available.”

The Charles Lea Center already partners with SimplyHome to provide technology in their residential support programs to enable independent living. The SimplyHome System placed in the Life Skills Center is an accurate replica of how technology is currently being utilized in their independent living program.

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Charles Lea Center Reduces Costs Using SimplyHome

SimplyHome has partnered with The Charles Lea center in Spartanburg to provide technology in their new independent apartment program.  SimplyHome installed systems that monitor 24 different individuals between 3 different apartment complexes in Spartanburg County.

“The use of SimplyHome will allow us to reduce staffing at several of our locations as in the past we needed a staff person to “sit” with the person and now we don’t,” says Pam Prevatte,  Charles Lea Center Director of Communications.  ” Our consumers do not want people staying with them – SimplyHome allows them the independence they crave and you can’t put a price tag on quality of life,” she says.

The housing program is called (HUD) housing. In the United States, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is responsible for enforcing the Fair Housing Act of 1968, along with supporting community development, increasing home ownership, and fighting housing discrimination.

The systems SimplyHome put in place for these 24 individual include motion sensors, door and window sensors, paging buttons, stove sensors, bed sensors, and wheelchair sensors that are all used to alert staff if a possible problem occurs. The sensors are looking for inactivity in the apartments that might indicate a fall or outside doors opening during night time hours. When a system rule is broken, a staff member immediately gets a phone call, text message, and announcement in the office so they can take appropriate actions. For example, one resident was used to being interrupted several times a night to be turned in her bed. She now has a paging button that she can push only when she wants to be turned, which gives her the choice and the independence she deserves.

SimplyHome is proud to be a part of such a great organization with such innovative thinkers. Our technology, along with Charles Lea staff, helps provide these individuals with maximum independence.

What is the Charles Lea Center?

The Charles Lea Center is a haven for more than 1,400 individuals – newborns to seniors – and their families, at two campuses and 62 group homes in Spartanburg County. As a vital community resource, it provides services that often cannot be found elsewhere in the Upstate. The Center employs approximately 625 individuals, of whom most work directly with consumers. This staff is is committed to providing the most compassionate services and developing opportunities that wlll lead to an improved quality of life for all consumers.

For almost 40 years, the Center has been the place to turn for innovative services and expert care for individuals with disabilities and chronic medical conditions in Spartanburg County. It has grown from an agency with 275 consumers and a budget of $500,000 in 1971 to a budget surpassing $27 million. The Center is the county’s second-largest nonprofit (after Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System) and is a driving force in Spartanburg County’s economy.

To learn more about the Charles Lea Center visit their website at To learn more about SimplyHome technology or to request a free assessment visit or call us toll free at (877) 684-3581.