Enabling Technology: Changing How We Live with TBI

Young Man with Bike

For many survivors of traumatic brain injury, life is never quite the same. TBI affects everyone differently, depending on the location of the injury. Was there damage to the frontal lobe? Loss of focus and impulsiveness may occur. The occipital lobe? Vision problems may crop up. Physical abilities, mental abilities, emotions, and personality can all be affected by TBI.

 

One of the hallmarks of TBI, however, is problems with short-term and long-term memory. People with TBI may not remember to care for themselves and for their home environment. They may have difficulty with language, speaking, remembering faces, as well as naming and identifying things.

 

A second hallmark of TBI is that planning and executive functioning may be impaired. This can make it very difficult for a person with TBI to complete tasks, follow a schedule, and adhere to a routine. Some people with TBI need prompting to complete daily tasks but also need enough time to move at their own pace.

 

Assistive technology – particularly customized remote support technology – can enable a person with TBI to take more ownership of daily life, gaining greater independence and asserting the dignity of taking reasonable risks.

 

SimplyHome’s remote support technology is customized for each individual, in order to promote a wide variety of outcomes:

 

  • Establishing and Maintaining a Daily Routine
    • Verbal prompts can be customized for the home environment. Individuals can receive scheduled reminders such as, “John, it’s time to get up and get dressed.”
    • Verbal cues can also be based on sensors and time of day – if John enters the bathroom between 6-8pm, he can receive a verbal prompt such as, “John, don’t forget to brush your teeth after dinner.”
    • Many individuals currently using our SimplyHome assistive technology use the verbal prompts to help them start their day on time, leave for work at the proper time, make sure to take their keys with them, or remember to shower, wash clothes, or complete chores.
    • These prompts can be customized to occur based on each individual’s desired schedule. Routines can be adjusted as needs change, and the individual can go at their own pace.

 

  • Managing Medication Adherence and Chronic Conditions
    • Often people with TBI need to utilize new strategies to remember things. If the individual with TBI is taking medicine, he or she may not remember to take it on time, or may miss a dose.
    • Automated medication dispensers can prompt the individual (by utilizing a light or a buzzer) to take the medication, and alert a family member or another caregiver (by phone or text) if the medication is missed or not taken on time.
    • Individuals who need to manage health conditions such as diabetes or hypertension can be prompted to take their blood sugar/blood pressure and the measurement can be recorded using our Telehealth wellness tools.
    • When Telehealth measurements (such as blood sugar or blood pressure) fall outside the normal range, a caregiver or a family member will receive an alert.

 

  •   Access to Non-Emergency Assistance
    • For some individuals with TBI, a Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) is helpful. This device, which can be worn around the wrist or around the neck, allows the individual to summon help (from selected caregivers or family members) when they are in need of assistance.
    • Some people with TBI have difficulty with balance and movement; having a PERS in one’s home can promote peace of mind, just in case a fall or another emergency should occur.
    • Depending on the severity of the TBI symptoms, other people may not have emergency concerns, but simply need a way to quickly summon assistance for themselves, while maintaining independence in their own space.

 

The beauty of assistive technology is that it’s not one-size-fits-all. We can all benefit from using technology to meet our goals – whether that is cooking a four-course meal, or simply using the kitchen safely; whether it means being able to start your own business out of your home (as some of our clients have done), or simply carrying out your daily routines in your own home.

 

Want to talk? We love empowering people to meet their goals for independence and growth. Schedule a free assessment today.

 

 

For more information about Traumatic Brain Injury:

 

 

SimplyHome Featured in the Biltmore Beacon

2017BiltmoreBeacon

Photo by Sandra Barnes

From Alaska to New York, from Canada to California, wherever SimplyHome goes, you can be sure we are working to enable people to live more independently by using technology.

Recently our Chief Development Officer, Jason Ray, spoke with the Biltmore Beacon about his ever-expanding work to empower people. For Jason, this includes everyone from his own aging family members, to Alaskans with intellectual and developmental disabilities, to service providers all over the continent:

“A lot of people who want to remain in place at their homes can’t afford full-time, live-in assistance,” Ray says. “For someone with a disability, technology can make things possible.”

The article focuses on the Ray family and how they seek to create better outcomes and better lives for people whose strengths and abilities are often overlooked.

Read the full article here.

 

Sensors Harness Skills for Independence at ADAPT (UCP-NYC)

UCP-NYC Image 1SimplyHome is pleased to announce our work with UCP-NYC (ADAPT) to incorporate our customized assistive technology services to promote more independent living for residents with United Cerebral Palsy – NYC (now ADAPT Community Network). UCP-NYC / ADAPT is the leading nonprofit agency in New York City providing direct services, technology and advocacy to children and adults with cerebral palsy and other disabilities.

“It’s My Own Routine”

One ADAPT resident, Efrain, uses SimplyHome technologies to increase independence with respect to his health. He uses Telehealth devices that record his blood sugar and blood pressure levels, and each device notifies staff if those levels exceed set parameters.

Efrain also uses a medication dispenser, which allows him to start his day and take medication without assistance from staff.  “I like just getting up and being able to get going,” said Efrain. “It’s my own routine, I don’t have to wait for staff.”

Read more: ADAPT COMMUNITY NETWORK’s full article.

 

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Top 5 Assistive Technology Resources

Top 5 assistivetechnology resources

Knowing where to find assistive technology resources can be daunting. Whether you are a family member, care provider, grandparent, parent – Where do you even begin? How do you know what works?

We’ve identified a list of the top go-to sources for individuals with disabilities wanting to stay informed about assistive technology resources available to them.

 

#1 The Arc’s Tech Toolbox

Tech ToolboxWhy we love it: It’s exactly what the name reads – A toolbox. Full of products and websites all centered around serving individuals with disabilities. You can even customize your list  by using a few key words to be geared towards independent living, a job, health, interpersonal relationships, or communication, to name a few.

“We have learned that it is challenging to find products that are a good fit for the diverse range of needs and goals of those in our community. To solve this, Tech Toolbox™ provides our community with a user-friendly, easy-to-search online space for sharing information about technology products. Anyone can add a tool to the Tech Toolbox™. And, anyone can rate or review a tool. Plus, you can ask questions about how to use a tool and answer the questions that others ask.”

 

#2 AT Smackdown

AT Expo

Why we love it: A byproduct of the 2016 Adirondack AT Expo, attendees added some of their favorite assistive technology resources. The list ranges from Bookshare to Tots ‘n Tech.


#3 The Mighty

 The MightyWhy we love it: In the words of The Mighty, “We publish real stories by real people facing real challenges. We are building a brand and a community around them. Having a disability or disease doesn’t have to be isolating. That’s why The Mighty exists.”  Their stories not only include developmental and physical disabilities, but also mental health issues.

 

#4 Disability Scoop

 disability scoopWhy we love it: Disability Scoop is the nation’s largest news organization devoted to covering developmental disabilities. Stories cover autism, intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, down syndrome and others. A recent story discusses a new regulation requiring movie theaters to further accommodate individuals with disabilities. Another provides an update on a tracking device for children with developmental disabilities getting one step closer to becoming law.

 

#5 Access and Inclusion Through Technology

Access and InclusionWhy we love it: It’s global news. Don’t have enough time to read an article? The site provides images and videos specific to accessible technology, similar to a social media feed. It also breaks out topics into categories such as Innovation, Leisure, Health and Social.  One such article highlights new technology in videos, including one about a computer mouse that can be controlled by an individual’s head movements.

 

Want to learn more about SimplyHome Technology?

Contact us for a free assessment!

 

 

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Arc of NC State Conference Features David Maennle and SimplyHome

“Enabling technology empowers individuals to dream of new possibilities where every person can live a life of their choosing. It should be less about a person’s needs and more about their abilities, capabilities, and potential for success through natural supports.”

- Allen Ray, SimplyHome

 

This year’s ARC of NC State Conference will feature key presentations by SimplyHome and a Western North Carolina family who uses SimplyHome technology on a daily basis to support more independent living. This year’s conference takes place September 8-9, in Charlotte, NC, and brings together self-advocates, families of people with disabilities, and I/DD professionals to create an informative and inspiring experience aimed at supporting people with disabilities as they pursue their personal goals for work, home, and community.

SimplyHome’s conference presentation will engage families to discuss the life-changing effects of assistive technology and smart home options for people with disabilities. SimplyHome will also partner in a panel on Assistive Technology. David Maennle, an individual who uses SimplyHome technology, and his mother, Becky Garland Hopper, will both participate in this panel, discussing how David’s use of assistive technology supports his vision for his life.

David's VisionDavid Maennle’s story (“David’s Vision”) is a great example of how technology can promote independence and create customized outcomes for people with disabilities. David Maennle is an accomplished young man who won’t take no for an answer. Diagnosed with down syndrome as an infant, David has established very specific goals for his home, workplace, and community. He has graduated from Western Carolina University’s University Participant program, formed friendships with people with and without disabilities, successfully completed internships related to emergency medical care and athletic injuries, obtained a job with the Graham County EMS, and frequently volunteers in his community. David’s coworkers attest that he is a valued member of his workplace and his larger community. David also serves in leadership for the advocacy organization NC-TASH.

David’s mother Becky, an outspoken advocate for inclusion, also has a unique perspective on the use of technology to promote independence for people with disabilities. Becky not only functions as Treasurer for the North Carolina TASH, but also works as Finance Officer of Graham County, NC. Because of her position in finance, Becky is keenly aware that David’s chosen lifestyle not only promotes his desired goals for his life, but ends up being a cost-effective way to support people with disabilities.

David uses a SimplyHome system (a customized integration of assistive technology) to promote residential safety, to adhere to a daily schedule, and to enable his family members to provide a natural level of support without intruding on his independence and privacy. David utilizes customized verbal prompts and various sensors throughout his home to reach outcomes related to cooking his own meals, completing a morning routine of self-care before he heads to work, ensuring he meets his health needs every day, and accessing help quickly if needed.

Comparing North Carolina’s typical costs for providing group home or institution-based support services to someone with disabilities similar to David’s, Becky has calculated that David’s chosen, independent lifestyle, supported by assistive technology, saves the state almost $100,000 annually.

 

“Beyond cost, the big factor is his quality of life, and his ability to navigate life himself, which is priceless.”

- Becky Garland Hopper

 

David continues to set and meet goals for his life, whether it be his goal of building his own log cabin, caring for his own bluetick hound, or continuing to work with area emergency services in Western North Carolina.

What can technology do for you and your family? Do you have the courage to change the way you and your loved ones live? Are you ready for technology to step in and provide the independence your family members long for? We’re on this journey together.

Thanks to the willingness of David and other individuals to share their stories, SimplyHome is engaging in thought-provoking discussions on customized technology solutions that promote independence, dignity, and person-centered planning in the lives of people with disabilities.

Sources & Additional Resources:

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.

Dakota’s Story

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 11.38.02 AMWe are on the road again and this time we ran into our friend Dakota. Click here to watch the video.

Dakota is a young man who desired to live on his own. Dually diagnosed with mental health issues and IDD, he had been hospitalized twice for aggressive behavior that injured other adults. Dakota’s mother, however, knew that with the right natural supports, he could live in a supported community setting rather than in a group home. His team agreed that given his behavioral challenges, living alone could actually be a better option than congregate living.

When asked about his priorities for independence, Dakota noted:
• He didn’t want anyone to be telling him what to do
• He wanted to have friends over and not have his home look like a preschool (staff had posted large pictures around his home since Dakota was a nonreader)

SimplyHome developed a wireless sensor system to cue Dakota so that he could be reminded by technology rather than by adults.
His cues included:
• Getting his keys and locking his door when leaving the apartment
• Turning off his stove if he left it on longer than 30 minutes
• Taking a shower and bathing with soap
• Using his CPAP machine so he could get better sleep at night

He also used a medication dispenser to remind him to take his medication regularly. At the 6-month mark, Dakota had accomplished the following outcomes with technology as a natural support:
• Staff was reduced to from 2-to-1 to 1 person, and the same staff person, John, remained with him since the team meeting 6 months prior
• Dakota had called our office to request the door cue be removed because he naturally grabbed his keys and locked his door
• Dakota demonstrated 100% compliance with his CPAP machine at night, thus resulting in better sleep for physical and behavioral renewal

At the 9-month mark, Dakota’s SimplyHome representative, Cameron Kempson, visited him at his apartment. When she arrived, he was playing basketball with people from the apartment complex community. John, his staff person, noted that with the assistance of the technology, he and Dakota were able to develop a rapport rather than argue all the time. John had been working with Dakota on social and behavioral skills that now enabled him to play a team sport with neighbors.

At the 9-month mark, Dakota had accomplished the following outcomes with technology as a natural support:
• Maintained the same staff person for the 9-month period and had reduced staff hours from 12 hours to 6 hours per day
• Transitioned to using a smart phone alert for medication and demonstrated 100% compliance
• Cooked meals independently without leaving the stove on or burning food
• Most importantly, demonstrated success in activities of daily living, ability to self-advocate, and integrate into his neighborhood community

David’s Vision

We hit the road to see how people have been empowered using our technology. For our first stop, meet David.SimplyHomeDavid is an accomplished young man who doesn’t take no for an answer. David was born with an intellectual disability but like his mother Becky Garland says, “he is able to do everything that he puts his mind to. It’s just a little bit differently.” After graduating from college, David was eager to live in his own place. With SimplyHome technology throughout David’s home, David is able to live out that dream. He utilizes verbal prompting, door sensors, motion sensors, bed sensors and pendants to remain safe in his own home. His mother is able to login to a website to track sensor activity if she is notified of an issue.

David’s Vision is his dream of one day building a log cabin for himself on some family property with his red pickup truck and coon dog by his side. They want David’s Vision to help others with I/DD to attain safe, affordable independent housing. To make a donation, contact SimplyHome’s Marketing Department at kristen@simply-home.com.

For Today’s Retirees, There’s No Place Like Home

Aging in place is an ever growing idea throughout the baby boomer generation. As Dorothy said, “there is not place like home.” This rings true for people of all ages, but baby boomers are clinging tight to this thought.

See what people are saying about aging in place in this article by USA Today and Newsmax.

For Today’s Retirees, There’s No Place Like Home

(photo: Thinkstock)

(photo: Thinkstock)

American retirees these days are gravitating toward the notion of staying put and “aging in place” rather than moving to sunnier climes, new data show.

USA Today reported an AARP study found the overwhelming majority of people 50 years of age and over want to remain in their home and community “for as long as possible.”

Separately, a Merrill Lynch/Age Wave survey concluded 65 percent of retirees say they are living in the best homes of their lives right where they are.

“There is something deeply nourishing about our homes, and people become increasingly appreciative of that emotional connection as they get older,” says gerontologist Ken Dychtwald, CEO of Age Wave. “It’s a rich emotional nest.”

Many retirees want to remain in their home “because they are most comfortable with what is most familiar,” psychologist Mary Languirand, co-author of How to Age in Place, told USA Today. “People are going to do whatever they can to maintain that sense of comfort. That is the ideal place in a lot of people’s minds.”

The Merrill Lynch/Age Wave survey concluded a majority – 58 percent – are interested in new technologies such as cleaning robots, 80 percent are interested in tech-enabled efficiencies such as smart thermostats and 76 percent are interested in technologies to maintain their health, such as sensors, alerts and air purification devices.

Dychtwald says 52 percent of people over the age of 75 live alone.

“Technology can help people keep an eye on mom or dad,” he said. “The good news is that all of these breakthroughs are on the drawing board or already available, but they are waiting for the market to take more full advantage of them.”

USA Today noted AARP offers a guide aimed at helping consumers stay in their homes as long as possible.

The guide offers tips and suggesting ranging from simple do-it-yourself fixes to more expensive improvements, and also includes worksheets.

See the original article about what people are saying about aging in place here.

Siblings of special-needs children: They are their brother’s keeper

Often times the parents of children are mentioned. While parents probably play the biggest role in the life of a child with special needs, there is another big time player in their life: their siblings. Brothers and sisters of a child with special needs play a special role in that they are closer to their age and understand some of the struggles of growing up in a way that is different than the parent may view the child’s life. Siblings are typically the ones who go to school and experience life together. This being the case, having a sibling with special needs heightens a child’s sense of empathy and compassion in a way that other children may not understand.  Check out this article highlighting the siblings of special needs kids. 
 

Siblings of special-needs children: They are their brother’s keeper

It’s a funny dichotomy.
Parents of special-needs children are often recognized and lauded for their unflagging service to their children. Yet, the non-disabled siblings of the same families can go unnoticed.

It’s tempting to look at the challenges of such a family and conclude that having a sibling with a disability is a damaging burden — one which can marginalize and embitter the brothers or sisters of a child with special needs. We might feel it is a tragedy
not only for the child with special needs, but also for the siblings.

It isn’t the case, though.

In my family, which includes two boys who have multiple disabilities as well as two typical boys, I’ve seen the opposite. The same is true in the myriad families I know who had both disabled and non-disabled children.

Siblings of a special-needs kid are the lucky ones, because they grow into people who understand selflessness.

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 4.01.05 PMThey learn at a tender age to serve and have endless opportunities to offer unending service at home.

My eldest son has never known anything different. At age 6, he started washing his own hair in the bath before instinctively reaching over to wash his 4-year-old brother’s hair as well. In the car, he buckled his little brother’s seatbelt automatically before buckling his own. Now as a middle-schooler, he picks up the toddler when the 10-year-old starts violently rampaging. He calmly talks to the 6-year-old, whose anxiety can spin out of control. He watches over his younger brothers with gentleness.

Read the rest of the article here.