Alan Berner, Vice President of Community Services – The Phoenix Residence, Inc.
While the state of Minnesota boasts one of the richest, most comprehensive funding structures for technology, there continue to be areas in which funding is not available. Lack of formal funding should not deter providers from considering to invest their own dollars in certain solutions which make sense to help improve an organization’s ability to encourage independence of the people we support as well as helping an organization become more effective.
The Phoenix Residence, Inc. has invested heavily in back-end solutions aimed at helping us complete our work in the most efficient manner possible. This has helped us continue to grow in our ability to support people with their technology. It has also led to solutions which have great benefits for the people we support as well as our organization.
The first solution I’d like to highlight is our support of a highly mobile individual who has a history of falling and is living in an ICF/DD home where we provide support. We had several instances where bruising or other injuries occurred and were unable to be explained by staff as they hadn’t witnessed any causal events. As a result, the relationship between our staff and family members, who expected answers, grew strained; so at the request of the family members, we installed a camera system in the common areas of the home. For a cost of less than $2,000, staff have not only been able to identify more fall instances, but they are also better able to evaluate care needs such as whether a neuro evaluation is needed, and demonstrate to family members the proper supervision as detailed in the care plan is being provided. Those benefits alone were worth the investment. Financially—installing cameras has saved time in resources that would have gone into investigating issues and providing unnecessary supports. As an organization, we continue to only implement this type of solution at the request and consent of the people living in the homes, as we feel it is their place to say whether they would want cameras in their home.
Another solution in which we invested is an assistive voice activated remote for an individual who spends considerable time in his room watching TV and movies. Like many of us, he wants to change channels frequently, but he needs help in order to do so. He would frequently call out to the staff members on site to come and change his channel causing them to either alter what they were doing or he would have to wait for a task to be completed before they could come and support him. By adding the device, he was able to change the channels on his own. With the investment we made in this device, it is not only improving his independence, but freeing up our staff to focus on alternative tasks for significant periods of time. The device itself, along with the training to make it useful, cost nearly $5,000. While the investment in the remote was significant, even if it saved 15 minutes of our staff time a day, it would result in a savings of nearly $2,000 a year. Over the five years he effectively was able to use this remote, we easily recouped our investment.
These two solutions were focused on creating better outcomes for specific individuals and funding was not available due to the ICF/DD homes where they live. Our investment in both locations not only created the better outcomes we were hoping for, but also allowed us the significant savings in our staffing resources that outweighed the resources we dedicated to getting the technologies implemented.
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