SIDNEY — The Shelby County Board of Development Disabilities now offers an in-home support service aimed to provide further independence for its clients.
Remote support, also known as remote monitoring, is a budding service model that combines technology and direct care to assist people with developmental disabilities.
This is achieved through the use of two-way communication in real time, including home-based sensors, cameras, and other technologies, allowing an off-site caregiver to monitor and respond to the safety concerns and needs of people living in the community.
According to Melissa Rittenhouse, technology support manager for Shelby County Board of DD, this two-way communication is similar to Skype or FaceTime. SCBDD employs providers from outside agencies, and when hands-on care is not required, remote support makes it possible for direct care staff to provide care from a remote location.
Rittenhouse said the program allows a person to select the degree of assistance they deem necessary for their lifestyle.
“The technology varies to fit different needs,” she said. “A person with a developmental disability can choose technology that senses motion, falls, and inactivity that can alert caregivers, staff, and family members when assistance may be needed.”
SCBDD service and support administrator assistant Karen Sharp said the launch of this technology began in June. She said one of the hurdles of introducing the program within the community is that many families of people with developmental disabilities are apprehensive about care being provided to their loved one remotely.
To combat this, the board has partnered with Wynn-Reeth Inc., a remote support provider based out of Green Springs, to install various technologies in a model home in Sidney to provide a demonstration of services to those interested in learning more about the program.
The model home, located at 221 King Court, includes a two-way video communication device, motion sensors, contact sensors, a CO2 detector, a heat/smoke alarm, a stove sensor, and different types of cameras.
“We really want to make (the model home) accessible to families so they can understand and see the technology to know the endless possibilities,” Sharp said. “It really gives people the independence they need.”
Theoretically, clients could choose to install all of the above-mentioned features in their home, or pick only the technology which best suits their needs.
As of now, just two homes within Shelby County have remote support technology installed. SCBDD service support administrators are currently looking through the case log and contacting families who may be interested in this program to invite them to tour the model home.
“Providing the greatest measure of safety and peace of mind for individuals and their families is the primary focus when discussing remote supports as a planning option,” Rittenhouse said. “Creating a technology transition plan that allows the person with disabilities, family members, and staff to establish comfort and confidence with the technology is the first step.”
For more information or to schedule a tour of the model home, families can contact their SSA, call 497-8155, or visit shelbydd.org/remote-support.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4825.