Creating Organizational Buy-In Part 1 | The Basics

Organizational Buy-in basics

Gaining organizational buy-in for change can be difficult, but it doesn’t need to be. We’ve broken down our most recent training webinar into a three-part post series where three experts who have gone through the technology implementation process share how they helped bring and spread the use of technology supports within their own organizations. In part one of the series, The Basics, experts cover the basic steps needed to bring forward technology supports as a valid option for your organization and the individuals you help support based on their experiences.


Get to know the experts:

sean henderson headshot Sean Henderson, Information Systems Analytics Manager Hammer Residences
kathy larson headshot Kathy Larson, Director of Brain Injury and Specialty Support Services REM Minnesota
kit piltingsrud headshot Kit Piltingsrud, Program Manager and Assistive Technology Professional Living Well Disability Services


Get Educated

The first step to gaining buy-in from others is being able to articulate why you believe in something, and why it’s a good choice.

  • Identify what you are trying to solve for, keeping the individual at the center. Assessment guides are great options to get you started.
  • Research possible solutions or next steps. A great place to start is the Technology Resource Center Library, which includes success stories, specially designed resources, and helpful links from around the web.
  • Find out what costs might be involved. Research possible solutions online and/or request information from tech vendors or peers. TRC Mentors are great resources to reach out to—they’ve been through this process before, and are ready to help.

Hear from the experts and utilize the resources below:

Bring it Forward

Now that you have identified the need, a potential solution, and rough costs associated, you can bring your plan forward to your supervisor or key stakeholders further explaining why you believe this to be a great solution for the individual, and for your organization.

  • Highlight the benefits of technology use (autonomy, decrease in staff hours, increase in staff efficiency, etc)
  • Share examples. Show examples of supports actually helping people to gain buy-in and excitement.

Hear more from the experts:

Spread the Knowledge

Now that you’ve got the attention of your boss and/or key stakeholders, further develop your case for technology and begin sharing concepts with others in your organization and the people you help support.

  • Bring in the experts for a “show-and-tell” experience. Many vendors offer free demos.
  • Use tech-solve language or terms around co-workers, individuals, and families to familiarize them.
  • Have open discussions with primary care staff to determine real needs/wants and promote innovation.


In part two and three of the series, experts will dive deeper into ways to spread the knowledge throughout your organization to create buy-in. Concepts include ways to educate all members of the care team, maintaining support, and how to become the champion for technology use within your organization. Stay tuned!

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Visit the ARRM Technology Resource Center to learn about more success stories and case studies showing how technology is changing the lives of those living with disabilities or learn more about how to start the conversation.

“It’s Been Good for Me”: Angie’s Story

Angie talks about her choice to live independently

Interview reprinted with permission from Impact, a newsletter published by the Institute on Community Integration (UCEDD), and the Research and Training Center on Community Living and Employment (RTC-CL), University of Minnesota.

Originally published on the TRC blog, “Putting a Plan Together for Independent Living” walks readers through Angie’s experience with technology use to maintain her independence and continue to live on her own, even though she was experiencing health issues. In a recent Impact article by Sandy Henry, published by the Institute on Community Integration (ICI), and the Research and Training Center on Community Living and Employment (RTC), University of Minnesota, Beth Dykema, a Direct Support Professional with CCRI’s Independent by Design program, interviewed Angie about her home and life.

Beth: Tell me about what your life was like before you started with Independent by Design?
Angie: I lived on my own. I was mostly on my own. I set up my medications, someone called me [in the] morning when it was time to go to work. Someone came to help me with house work.

Beth: Where were you living then?
Angie: Different apartment in Moorhead.

Beth: I understand you had some health issues at the time. Can you tell me about that and what your biggest concern was then?
Angie: I didn’t always take my medications. My diabetes was up and the shower bothered me. Now I have help.

Beth: When you first heard about Independent by Design and CCRI, what did you think?
Angie: I thought it sounded like a good idea. I was scared to move.

Beth: What types of technology are you using with the Independent by Design team?
Angie: I used to have more. I have sensors for my medications box. I have a button for emergencies.

Beth: How does the technology and the Independent by Design team help you to be more independent?
Angie: I know there is always someone here. Daily staff visits or I get lonesome. I get out more.

Beth: Would you recommend using technology and the Independent by Design program to others?
Angie: I would, yeah. It is a good system for people to be in the community and not to stay home.

Beth: Anything else you would like to add that you feel is important?
Angie: If people really want to live on their own and be independent I think it is a good idea. It’s been good for me.

Learn more about Angie’s story and how, through initial conversations, she and her team were able to put together a support and response plan that met her needs while maintaining her desired level of independence.

Looking to begin conversations of your own surrounding technology use for increased independence and privacy? Begin the FREE 30 minute online training course “Technology 101: The Conversation” to get started today.

Don’t miss the next article!


Visit the ARRM Technology Resource Center to learn about more success stories and case studies showing how technology is changing the lives of those living with disabilities or learn more about how to start the conversation.

New Technology Means New Options for People Needing Supports: A Minnesota Story

Technology options for people needing supports

Sandy Henry, Technology Advocate and former community residential services provider
Reprinted with permission from Impact, a newsletter published by the Institute on Community Integration (UCEDD), and the Research and Training Center on Community Living and Employment (RTC-CL), University of Minnesota.

Until recently “supervision,” as used in regulatory language, had often been synonymous with having a caregiver physically present, whether the caregiver is family or Direct Support Professionals (DSPs). This fact has been one of the greatest barriers to individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD) living more independent lives. But, what if there was a way for caregivers to know when they are needed and when the person is doing fine on his or her own? What if a caregiver could be assured a vulnerable person got home from work on time, didn’t let anyone else in the apartment, never left the stove on unattended, took medications on time, and could check-in for a chat or a question even with the caregiver miles away? And, what if the tools it took to do all these things were affordable? Remote supervision and support offers those possibilities.


Remote support and the technology it requires is not new, but spreading the word and adapting regulatory and funding rules to take advantage of it has been a slow process. Because “supervision” required the presence of a DSP, funders felt safe tying payment to DSP physical presence, and regulatory language often used “supervision” and “staff ” interchangeably. It all worked, for better or worse, until supervision no longer required the physical presence of a DSP. Minnesota has found a way to adapt funding and regulation to use the new technology tools, and it is starting to catch on.

Minnesota identified two ways of funding remote support through the HCBS Waiver:

  1. Individuals living in their own home (non-provider controlled) where services are offered via a menu of options. In this situation, remote support technology and services are covered under Environmental Accessibility Adaptations. Since the technology is of no use without DSPs or natural supports receiving and responding to information from the technology, DSP 24-hour remote supervision and response is covered under 24-Hour Emergency Assistance in a daily rate.
  2. Individuals living in licensed provider-controlled housing with services paid for via an inclusive daily rate. In this case a rate calculation system called the Rate Management System (RMS) is used to determine the daily rate. The RMS calculation is based on the person’s needs, including on-site awake staff, on-site overnight sleep staff, and remote monitoring hours of supervision.
    Two organizations using remote support technology in Minnesota are Dungarvin and CCRI.

Dungarvin: Alternative Overnight Supervision

Dungarvin is a national organization of privately-owned companies that are dedicated to providing high quality, community-based supports to people with varying support needs. In Minnesota, it first piloted the use of technology for remote support in 2006, and now uses remote monitoring technology in a number of locations. It took a few years of work with regulators and other stakeholders to receive approval for remote supervision as an alternative to on-site overnight staff, as required by regulation. Dungarvin now uses two active staff overnight to provide scheduled cares and respond to call devices in five homes in Minnesota. Staff can get to each house from another within the times specified in each person’s support plan.

Dungarvin currently uses bed, motion, and contact sensors, and a variety of call devices to match each person’s physical abilities. If a person can’t use a traditional call pendant, a button activated by the light touch of a knee, elbow or head will do. Adapted call devices are mounted to beds, wheelchairs, and walls in bathrooms and anywhere else a person might want to let DSPs know they want help. Dungarvin also uses sensors on individuals’ medication cabinets and sensors to prompt DSPs when critical cares are due, helping the busy staff stay on top of things.

The sensors and call devices are connected to robust software managed by Sengistix, a national remote support vendor. Each person’s support team decides the areas of vulnerabilities for which a DSP needs to be notified and respond in person. Individuals at risk of falls or wandering might require a DSP to respond as soon as a person is out of bed, or out of bed and not moving around in his or her room. Each person served decides how and when to use the call device to request DSP attention. All notifications to staff are private, going to a phone DSPs carry to receive and accept responsibility for responding to notifications. The various sensors also track the care actions of DSPs to help verify how quickly notifications are responded to and timing of critical cares, such as medication administration and repositioning.

CCRI: Independent Housing Options

CCRI, in Clay County of western Minnesota, developed the Independent by Design (IBD) program partnering with Sengistix as the technology vendor. For CCRI and Clay County this program is an alternative to traditional 3-4 person homes. By using the same type of technology Dungarvin uses, CCRI staff support a variety of people with a range of needs, each living in his or her own community apartment/home. Each person, with help from the support team, identifies what situations indicate a need for IBD staff to respond and what the expected response is. It might be a phone call to discuss an issue and offer direction, or a DSP going to the person’s home to provide face-to-face support. When appropriate, the technology keeps staff informed of when individuals come and go, take medications, are in or out of bed, have an activated smoke detector, and so forth. The technology is also used to provide reminders and prompts directly to the person, only involving staff if the matter isn’t resolved. For example, if a vulnerability for one person is getting up and off to work on time, a bed sensor can prompt a phone call to the person if not out of bed by 6:30, again at 6:35 and again at 6:40, if not out of bed. If by 6:45 the person is still not out of bed, the system will call the assigned DSP to intervene per the person’s plan. The same can apply to taking medications, leaving for work on time, or any number of activities and behaviors. When someone needs more intense support and education in certain areas, additional hourly supports can be added and adjusted as the need indicates.

The individuals supported by IBD are not restricted to living in group settings to share staff support. They get the interactive support they need when they need it, while living in the place of their choice. When they don’t need direct staff interaction, they are independent and on their own, knowing support is available at the push of a button. The IBD staff are mobile and can be anywhere in a 20 minute radius, helping someone prepare a meal, talking a person through a tough day at work, checking on a person with diabetes whose refrigerator hasn’t opened all day, being where they’re needed when they’re needed instead of sitting around a group living setting waiting to be needed.


Both uses of technology profiled here:

  • Allow individuals greater privacy, dignity, independence, and control.
  • Extend the reach of DSPs by helping them know when, where, and how to be of greatest assistance.
  • Maximize the efficiency of taxpayer resources by reducing wasted DSP time when they are not needed.
  • Improve accountability of the services, as a collateral benefit.

To enable these uses of technology the Minnesota Department of Human Services allowed innovation to occur, then worked with providers and advocates to find ways to responsibly adapt funding and regulation to support it (see the department’s policy page titled Monitoring Technology Usage). Regulations that don’t overly restrict providers or teams enable ongoing innovation, and funding that allows flexibility and adequate resources while still incurring overall savings sets up the system for success.


Learn more about Dungarvin’s remote support implementation
Learn more about CCRI’s remote support implementation

Impact is a newsletter published by the Institute on Community Integration (UCEDD), and the Research and Training Center on Community Living and Employment (RTC-CL), University of Minnesota. Articles cover useful and practical information, research, and case studies related to persons with intellectual, developmental, and other disabilities.

Learn more about Impact


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Visit the ARRM Technology Resource Center to learn about more success stories and case studies showing how technology is changing the lives of those living with disabilities or learn more about how to start the conversation.

Technology 101: The Conversation


On the road to technology implementation

If there was a step you could take which could lead to greater independence and privacy for people with disabilities and make direct support staff more efficient and effective, would you take it? How about if that step only took 30 minutes of your time?


[Enroll in Technology 101: The Conversation]

Launching Technology 101

One main goal of the Technology Resource Center (TRC) is to promote and spread the use of technology in supporting people with disabilities. One way the TRC aims to do this is through a series of online training courses to get individuals up to speed on the process and familiar with the technology options available today.
Dubbed ‘Technology 101”, these video courses walk support teams through each phase of the technology implementation process, complementing the information and resources already found within the TRC.

The Process


The first video training course, “Technology 101: The Conversation,” may be completed in roughly 30 minutes and guides providers, support staff, case managers, and families through the steps necessary to have thoughtful, shared conversations regarding the addition and use of technology in care plans.

Covered in Technology 101: The Conversation


[Enroll in Technology 101: The Conversation]


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Visit the ARRM Technology Resource Center to learn about more success stories and case studies showing how technology is changing the lives of those living with disabilities or learn more about how to start the conversation.

With a Little Help from Your Friends

TRC Mentor Network Launch

Technology sounds like a great addition to care plans. You’ve heard it can help increase independence for individuals with disabilities, and assist with staff management and how staff do their jobs. But where do you start? How do you turn conversations into actionable strategies? How do you find the specific technology supports that will work for the individual?


Step 1: Know there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution

Step 2: Review the resources available in the Technology Resource Center.


But then what? If only there was a way to connect with other individuals and organizations who have gone through the implementation process before that you could talk to and get answers to your remaining questions. Well, you’re in luck. The recently launched TRC Mentor Network provides just that.  

Who are the Mentors?

TRC Mentors act as guides for those looking to implement technology supports for individuals they serve, their family members, or for themselves.  Mentors are ARRM members from provider and technology vendor organizations (and soon, self-advocates), who have gone through the technology implementation process before and are available to provide guidance for those looking to get started or at any stage during implementation.

Provider Mentors offer their time and expertise to help answer questions individuals or organizations might have regarding the technology implementation process. They are available to help share their experiences, provide general information, and offer recommendations.

Vendor Mentors offer free, no-obligation consultations to provide answers to questions and offer solutions. Vendor Mentors are available to discuss what to expect during implementation, how certain items work, or what costs might be involved.

While there may come a point when the nature of your interactions with a Mentor changes from ‘mentorship’ to ‘business consultant’, the initial contact is a sales-free environment and a great way to figure out options and next steps.

How to get connected with a Mentor:

Visit the mentor page to view Mentor areas of expertise along with their availability to help guide you to the correct person for your particular question(s).


Visit the ARRM Technology Resource Center to learn about more success stories and case studies showing how technology is changing the lives of those living with disabilities or learn more about how to start the conversation.

Advocating for Technology Supports

An Interview with Lauren Ireland

Recently, we were able to sit down for an interview with Lauren Ireland to discuss technology and how it plays a role in her daily life. Lauren lives in Minneapolis, MN and her home is licensed for supportive community-based services. At 30 years old,  Lauren has had access to and has used technology all her life, though it wasn’t until she moved into her current home nearly 10 years ago that she became aware of remote monitoring technology and the benefits it provided her and other individuals with disabilities.

As an advocate for technology supports, Lauren has been featured in a recent TRC video success story  Technology Delivering Independence and Staff Efficiency,” and will be a panel member at the upcoming session going behind the video at the ARRM Annual Conference, held June 6 and 7, 2018, to discuss her feelings towards the move to technology and answer questions from the audience.

TRC: When did you start using technology supports?
Lauren: I started the [remote support technology] a couple of years ago when I moved into this home, but I have been using technology pretty much all my life.

TRC: What types of technology do you use?
Lauren: In general, I’ve used Dragon NaturallySpeaking before where it types for you on a computer. It’s a speaking software. I loved it. I wish I could, you know, find other ways to use it. I want to get a job in the community, so hopefully soon I’ll be able to use more technology like that.

TRC: When did you start using the speaking software?
Lauren: My high school had it there, so I’ve been using it since school off and on. It takes a lot of training, so it’s hard. Maybe I’m not going to be able to use it. But it will always be helpful if it came up again. I’m hoping it is something I can use. It does take quite a bit of training to get it used to your voice and things like that.

TRC: What additional technology do you use?
Lauren: I use the pendant [for remote monitoring]. I have a dog at my house and went outside with her one day and I accidentally got her leash wrapped around my wheel of my wheelchair and so she almost died. But I had the pendant on me and rang it and the assistant came to help me. And without that I wouldn’t have been able to save her.

Hear Lauren tell her and Jinger Jo’s story in the 60 second video:

My dog is like a therapy dog for everyone. Thank goodness that I had that light to press, because otherwise I don’t think she’d be alive. We did a video for ARRM and presented the video to a lot of the people and they all wanted to see the dog, they asked where she was.

Whenever anyone asks me questions about this I bring this up. It really shows me that when I was first introduced to it, I was thinking, “There’s no staff in the house 24-7”, because they rotate between the different houses. There used to be staff there and they switched to this technology and we were all a little bit nervous about how it was going to work. But it actually works quite well.

I forgot to say there are sensors at the house as well. In front of the door, or above the door, so if someone has come in your room, it tracks if the staff is actually doing what they’re supposed to.

TRC: What types of activities or tasks does the technology help you with?
Lauren: Typing on the computer. I work in Bloomington, actually, so I use the computer there. But I use [remote monitoring] when I’m at home. At night, if I need something, you press a button and it goes to this place and they call the phone at my group home and the staff will come and help me with whatever I need.

TRC: Overall have these devices been helpful to you? Do you like how they work?
Lauren: Oh yes. The [remote monitoring] pendant definitely helps. It makes me feel like if I need something I can press it. So I’m more safe, you know? Every once in a while I get nervous about “Gosh, I hope I don’t fall,” but I know if anything were to happen, I have that light there to ring.

I usually get rolled over one time a night. I don’t use [the pendant] often, unless I need something. I get rolled over and I’m pretty much good. Even though I may not use it as much as other people, it’s there.

I like the sensors because even if I don’t realize if people are coming in my room, and I don’t know if so and so checked me last night, the staff know, hey, they did. Usually I don’t question stuff like that but I know they look into those things, so that’s important.

TRC: Do you feel like using the technology has allowed you to live more independently?
Lauren: Oh yes. Definitely. I mean I only wish it would work further out into the community, you know? If you’re going to be late or whatever and you could just press it and it would automatically call someone. I wish it would do that. But obviously it can’t. If there was ever a  chance that something like that would happen, I would totally jump for that, because I’m usually gone. I’m usually not at home. So if something could do that it would be really great. I would love that.

TRC: Are you looking at adding any additional devices or technology pieces?
Lauren: Yeah. My best friend has an [Amazon] Echo at her house and she uses it for her own use and she and I love that thing. She uses it mostly for fun, but I think you can turn things on or off or get information about the world or the weather, or you know, whatever. But, you know, I’ve always thought of getting one to help with things like turn off lights and stuff, so that’s always something I thought about.

TRC: What’s holding you back from getting one?
Lauren: More information [on what it does] and the money. The money is a big deal. I’m not sure what it costs. It varies so much on what you get, and I want to make sure I’m going to be able to utilize it the most I can.  I’m hoping I can get one though, sometime here.

TRC: How was life different before moving to this location and using technology?
Lauren: When I was living at home without the [remote monitoring] technology I was asking people (my parents) if I needed something. I really wish I had had that there honestly. It would have been much calmer and nicer to have that. But also I want to encourage families if they have a person with a disability to look into getting something like this. It makes it a lot easier to sleep at night.

TRC: How has using these technologies changed the way you live your life?
Lauren: Oh my God. Well, it makes me a lot more comfortable to like be outside and go around to different places to like buy books and stuff, to visit people, you know? As long as I remember to take it with me. It’s pretty easy; I can bring it and it will alert someone to “Hey, I need help here.”

TRC: Would you recommend using technology to others?
Lauren: Definitely yes. And I wish it was more in the houses – like I had no idea that it existed. I have had a disability all my life and had no idea there was anything available like [remote monitoring].

Visit the ARRM Technology Resource Center to learn about more success stories and case studies showing how technology is changing the lives of those living with disabilities or learn more about how to start the conversation.

Regaining Confidence Through Remote Support

Expert contributor: Tamara Twite, CCRI


Going from having caregiver support 24 hours a day to just nine hours per week seems unimaginable, right? Who is making sure the individual is safe? Who is making sure they are getting to work on time or taking their medications?

A 159 hour per week drop in caregiver hours seems dramatic. That’s because it is—but in a good way. Ryan Sebelius was able to achieve greater independence while decreasing his need for in-person support through the use of remote support technology. Though not “traditionally” supported 24 hours a day as he was before the addition of technology, he is certainly not without support during the times a caregiver isn’t physically present in his home.

The Move to Remote Supports

Living on his own was always Ryan’s goal. He chose CCRI’s Supported Living Services program in 2006 to first develop critical skills for living more independently, such as stable medication management. At the time, he received 24 hour care and received help in managing his medications to make him less “hyper”, as he would say. Once his medication was on track, his next move was to CCRI’s Independent by Design program (IBD) where he uses remote monitoring in conjunction with direct caregiver hours to provide increased independence while matching his support needs.

Ryan is very independent and does an outstanding job at the day-to-day tasks of life. Reassurance that he is doing a good job is what he needs most. Technology provided that reassurance and helped create a smooth transition to independent living.

The Technology

Remote supports consist of sensors that are placed around a home that alert staff to a need. Alerts from sensors trigger a phone call to the assigned caregiver. In IBD, there is a caregiver in a nearby office 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to help individuals when a need arises. Caregivers respond to technology alerts, maintain the tech, and help with any other issues that come up.

At Ryan’s apartment, a front door sensor details comings and goings, and, because Ryan loves to cook (he is very proud of his pumpkin sloppy joes), a stove sensor was placed in a drawer next to the stove which notifies staff and Ryan if the temperature exceeds a certain level. On a weekly basis, Ryan, now independently, sets up his medications. In the beginning, a sensor was placed on his medication cabinet which let staff know when he was accessing his medication (by tracking when the cabinet opens and closes). With the consistency of the technology reminders, Ryan gained the independent routine to take his medications without the need for reminders.

How it works for Ryan

“Since beginning in IBD Ryan has become more outgoing and will stretch himself by trying new things—he just seems to beam.” Said Eric Hilber, SLS Director. Using remote support technology, Ryan is able to live safely in his own home—independently.

Since implementing the technology, Ryan’s in-person caregiver hours have gone from 24 hours a day to just nine hours per week. He no longer needs the sensors on his medication dispenser, he fills his automatic medication manager independently, and reorders his medications as needed. With his newfound independence, he is able to relax more, sleep in when able, and enjoys quieter mornings which he appreciates.

Technology can fulfill the desire for independence, while still maintaining the safety of the individual by instilling confidence and the assurance needed to achieve life goals. Often times following a technology implementation, it is found that certain supports are able to be removed as individuals become more confident and routines are solidified. Technology is there when needed, provides reassurance, and is easily modified as needs change.


Visit the ARRM Technology Resource Center to learn about more success stories and case studies showing how technology is changing the lives of those living with disabilities or learn more about how to start the conversation.

From Legislative Sessions to Conference Sessions

Upcoming Conference sessions on technology at the ARRM Annual Conference

Utilizing technology to not only provide opportunities for greater independence, but to also assist with the declining workforce is not necessarily a new topic, but it is one that has made it to the top of many individuals lists due to recently passed legislation in Minnesota.

Why is the topic of technology conversations so important? How is technology impacting the lives of individuals served? How is technology assisting with the declining workforce? These questions will all be answered in upcoming sessions at the 2018 ARRM Annual Conference.

Go All In Logo_Final-01

ARRM Annual Conference: “When the Stakes Are High, Go All In!”

June 6 – 7, 2018 | Mystic Lake Casino | Prior Lake, MN

Learn how you can go “all in” for yourself, your family members, or the people you help support by checking out the following technology sessions at the 2018 ARRM Annual Conference. During these sessions, you will get an in-depth look at the stories behind the videos of recently published Technology Resource Center (TRC) video success stories. Learn how these individuals and organizations approached the conversation and planning process, how they managed change, and hear from staff and individuals on their feelings pre- and post-implementation.


The Story Behind “Technology Delivering Independence and Staff Efficiency”

The most recently published ARRM Technology Resource Center (TRC) success story video “Technology Delivering Independence and Staff Efficiency,” showcased Dungarvin Minnesota personnel and individuals supported by the use of technology and how their transition to alternative overnight supervision impacted their lives, work, and the organization.

During this session, attendees will hear from the individuals featured in the TRC video about the initial goals related to services for individuals with complex medical needs, the impact on staffing, how they assessed success and/or need for changes, unexpected things they learned over time, and how it increased independence—from beginning conversations through today.  The session will conclude with an opportunity for audience questions to the panel.


The Story Behind “Making a Plan to Use Technology”

Hear from a panel of individuals featured in the TRC video story “Making a Plan to Use Technology” about what their transition to technology supports looked like from beginning conversations through measuring outcomes.

The session will go over the initial goals related to services for Angie and others in CCRI’s Independent by Design program (IBD), the different technology they used, how they assessed success and/or the need for changes, unexpected things they learned over time, and what changes they made and why. The panel will be available to answer questions at the conclusion of the session.


The Story Behind “Remote Support – It Starts with a Conversation”

Learn more about transitioning to remote support technology from a panel of Home and Community Options personnel and team members featured in the TRC video “Remote Support – It Starts with a Conversation”.

Panel members will share what technology supports they tried, how they measured success, unexpected things they learned, and what changes they made and why. There will be an opportunity for audience questions and discussion at the end of the session.


Learn more about the 2018 ARRM Annual Conference and Sessions

Remote Supports : 10 common questions every family should ask

Remote support technology comes in many forms. From medication dispensers that remind individuals to take their medication (and alert staff if access hasn’t occurred) to more high-tech options such as remote monitoring where external staff monitor a series of sensors and/or video  to alert internal staff to a need, options exist to help increase an individual’s privacy and independence while maintaining their needed level of care.

The first step in learning more about the remote supports that may work for you/your family member is knowing which initial questions to ask. We’ve captured the top 10 questions many family members and self-advocates have about using remote technology supports and received general answers from providers, vendors, and case managers. Keep these questions in mind when working with your team as you explore available options.

Without a physical body in the residence, how will the safety of the person be ensured?

Providers will work with the individual’s team to assess existing safety concerns, develop an appropriate monitoring and response plan, and then install the correct remote support technology to meet safety requirements as well as independence goals. The safety needs of each individual will be unique, and this planning process serves to outline the necessary staff coverage. It is important to remember that modifications may always be made to the plan to provide the best support possible for the individual receiving care.

Who determines what alerts and technology will be used? Who can change it?

The individual served and their team determines what monitoring technology will be needed to assure the individual’s needs and safety concerns are being met. Additional safeguards, such as specific alerts or tracking activity, may be set up to cover any “what if” scenarios the team may have, even if there isn’t a foreseen vulnerability or risk. At any time, the individual and team may make modifications to the technology in use. In fact, changes are common to either better account for things not originally considered or to decrease the level of alerts which the team may not find as necessary/useful as originally thought.

How does remote support technology increase independence?

Remote support technology allows a person to function throughout their day without staff having to be constantly present providing direction or reminders. For example, increased independence may be found by staff only entering the residence when the individual needs them vs having a staff member check in every thirty minutes to see if there is a need. In lieu of a staff member administering medication, a medication dispenser may be used to alert an individual to take their medication and signal staff when the day’s medication container has been opened (or has yet to be opened). Many individuals enjoy, and thrive, with the increased privacy and independence the technology offers them.

What happens if there is a power outage?

Prior to implementing the technology, providers walk team members through their response plans for emergency situations. Most remote support technology has a battery back-up, both for the systems installed at the home and at the remote site. In the event the system goes out completely, additional back-up plans would be put into action.These redundancies ensure individuals are not without assistance if needed, regardless of power supply.

What happens if there is a problem with the equipment?

During implementation, this would be a conversation to discuss with the team and provider. Many, if not all monitoring agencies will have a process available to notify of any issues with the functioning of the system or loss of contact. Back-up plans would be put in place to address what will happen when these instances take place. Also Identified and discussed in that plan would include items such as what to do when the system is down and the process and responsible parties for replacing components.

When should changes be made to the plan using technology?

The plan for using monitoring technology will be continuously evaluated to assess its effectiveness in supporting the person’s needs. Monitoring technology should change when the individual’s needs or goals change.

What about staff training regarding the use of technology?

The vendor will assure that staff, and all individuals involved, are educated on the equipment installed in the residence and how it works. The provider will be responsible for ongoing training on changes in alerts as the individuals needs change and address performance issues if staff aren’t meeting the needs of the individual as indicated by the data provided.

What happens when I/my family member needs assistance, but there is not staff in the home/apartment?

If an individual is in need of assistance when staff is not present in the residence, staff may be alerted in one of two ways. If a sensor has been tripped, staff will be notified according to the response plan. If staff isn’t present, but an individual needs/wants assistance outside of what their sensors are programmed for, they may “call” staff using the method chosen in their technology plan, such as by pushing a button, using a voice activated phone, or initiating a video call. Each alert has a “calling tree” that can include several phone numbers. The phone numbers and the order in which the system calls the numbers is able to be changed at any time.

I am curious about the use of the sensors and the data that is collected. Am I able to receive the data as well?

Yes. At any time, members of the team are able to request a data summary from their provider for the sensors in the residence.

What is the response time of the office staff?

As a part of the alternative adult foster care licensing process, your caregiver must develop and provide you with policies, procedures, and response protocols.  You must give your consent before use of technology is implemented. The statute requires that a caregiver respond within 10 minutes unless certain other provisions are met and approved by the Department of Human Services, Division of Licensing.  The alternative adult foster care license allows for a longer response if you consent to it, if the caregiver assures that certain conditions are met including the provision where the remote care provider can maintain interactive communications with you to assure you are safe and your needs are met.

If you live in your own home or another licensed or non-licensed home, you should ask your caregiver for the same procedures and protocols to ensure you are comfortable with the level of risk present with whatever response time is decided upon.

Visit the ARRM Technology Resource Center to learn about more success stories and case studies showing how technology is changing the lives of those living with disabilities or learn more about how to start the conversation.

Creating a strong base

Scott Wiyninger, SUCCESS Computer Consulting, Inc.

Investing in technology infrastructure for data security and independence

About seven years ago, The Phoenix Residence made the decision to invest heavily in new technology when they transitioned from paper records to electronic processing for items like medication, payroll, and scheduling.

Their new technology investments not only freed up resources to assist in handling some workforce issues that are common in the disability services industry, but also had the added benefit of allowing their residents to utilize assistive technology devices powered through Wi-Fi to increase independence.

Securing the data

In moving from paper to electronic medical records, The Phoenix Residence knew certain precautions would need to be put in place to protect individuals’ privacy. “Certainly, our exposure has increased, because we’re now doing so much of our work through an electronic mechanism,” noted Alan Berner, VP of Community Services.  

For facilities that process electronic medical records, certain measures need to be accounted for to ensure only the proper people have access to this sensitive data. How is this done? For The Phoenix Residence, they beefed up their data security infrastructure to ensure the proper level of security. They worked with our team to deploy firewalls throughout their 19 Minneapolis care facilities that were further reinforced by an additional layer of security services that stop malicious software (Malware) from gaining access to their system.

Adding access

As with most organizations, a stable and strong Wi-Fi network was very important to The Phoenix Residence as their staff utilize mobile devices for documenting care needs and medications. To help with this, additional Wi-Fi access points were installed to ensure a strong signal. These additional access points also allowed The Phoenix Residence to provide more extensive wireless coverage for the people they support—opening the door for greater independence through technology use.

“With the wireless access points, though we added them for business operations, there was a side benefit of being able to provide more extensive wireless coverage for the people we support where there wasn’t before – there’s a huge space for growth in this. For example, one person uses Alexa (Amazon’s digital assistant) for quality of life purposes. She controls her lights with it and even has it read her stories. Without being able to use that device, she could not do those things independently. We’ve been discussing integrating more of these devices in other areas of the residence so that when she’s not in her room, she can still have those functions, and some of the other people in the home would be able to utilize them as well,” said Alan.

Read the full case study prepared by SUCCESS Computer Software for full technology details.

SUCCESS provides managed network support, cloud services, project services, security solutions, CIO services, HIPAA consulting and Microsoft Office 365 migrations. We work with business leaders to ensure technology delivers the best value and is utilized in the most effective way for the success of their business today and in the future.

As a full-service provider of managed IT services, we are a part of your team, using technology as a tool to solve your business challenges, and integrating with your business as if we were a full-time employee. It is our purpose to revitalize the promise of technology — to empower businesses with the best and most appropriate technical infrastructure that enables them to succeed. 


Has your organization gone through a similar transition? If so, how has technology changed your daily processes or access to additional technology assistance for residents? Let us know about your tech experiences