GALLIPOLIS — The Gallia Board of Developmental Disabilities and the Guiding Hand School hosted a “mobile smart house” Friday to display technologies on the forefront of attempting to provide individuals with developmental disabilities a more independent style of living.
“It’s a big thing that the state is really interested in doing with people, individuals with developmental disabilities,” said IT Director of Ross County Board of Developmental Disabilities George Myers. “There’s a few reasons for it. It’s basically a way for people to live more independently. You’ve got an adult who wants to live on their own and a lot of times you have to have provider staff come out at different times of the day to help with different things. You can use technology to supplement that and replace it in some cases.”
Myers said there was a “huge shortage of direct service professionals” that visit client homes to provide assistance.
“It also provides ways to keep people safe when they’re by themselves because we can control and monitor pieces of technology from a remote location to provide some support,” said Myers.
“The smart tech and remote support services are awesome for individuals with disabilities,” said Gallia Board of Developmental Disabilities Superintendent Melinda Kingery. “It helps them to live more independent lives and they’re able to stay by themselves with just support from someone in a remote location.”
According to Myers, either support workers or family and friends can monitor the individual utilizing technology in a smart home.
Myers demonstrated technology inside the mobile smart house. Clients living within the home can be seen by security cameras, speak face-to-face with another via a tablet and camera, set timers by voice activation and more. A bed hooked into the smart system can vibrate to alert clients of potential fires or carbon monoxide leaks. Clients can even have their medications dispensed via a smart device. Temperature can be controlled remotely and individuals can communicate with clients in a restroom to make certain they’re fine with no cameras in order to avoid violating the client’s privacy.
According to a news release, the Southern Ohio Council of Governments ( SOCOG) was awarded grant funding to purchase a Mobile Smart Home to promote awareness of technology-based support for people with developmental disabilities. Devices and services called “remote supports” can give people access to support staff over two-way video or audio conversations. In addition, many technologies in the home such as security systems, door locks, cameras and motion sensors are accessible by remote staff from a central monitoring facility. Remote supports are designed to complement traditional in-home services, and individuals can choose which option is right for them. These supports can allow greater privacy and independence while reducing the cost of services and allowing more people to receive services during a shortage of available staff.
SOCOG received the $20,000 grant on Jan. 1, 2019 from Ohio State’s Nisonger Center and the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council. SOCOG’s grant funds went toward the purchase of a trailer that was outfitted in April 2019 with technology by Total Homecare Solutions, LLC, a leading provider of remote support services. Ohio’s goal of creating awareness about remote supports was formalized on May 24, 2018 when then Gov. John Kasich signed an executive order making Ohio a Technology First state. This order specifically stated Ohio’s goal to “ensure supportive technology solutions are considered when determining the appropriate services and supports to be provided for people with developmental disabilities.” SOCOG’s grant proposal called for a technology expert to lead the grant’s efforts. Due to his background in technology and knowledge of service delivery, Myers was chosen for this role and has been displaying the technology through various counties within SOCOG’s service area.