For some county residents, remote monitoring offers more independence.
Becky Ross enjoys spending time running errands and going out to eat with assistance from a direct support professional.
But she also likes having privacy and independence.
Thanks to remote monitoring supported by the Licking County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Becky can enjoy the best of both worlds.
When she is alone in her Newark home, she checks in with providers from Wynn-Reeth, Inc. through a video screen. Motion sensors in the floor alert the company if she falls or has a seizure and a heat sensor above her stove helps her cook safely.
Becky is one of nine Licking County residents who receive remote monitoring services from Wynn-Reeth. She was recently featured in a story on WSYX ABC6 about how the technology has helped her.
Another Licking County resident, Lori Bolton, was recently featured in a remote monitoring story in the Columbus Dispatch.
The technology, which has become more widely used in Ohio over the last six years, gives people more options, said Ken Smith, a technology engineer at Wynn-Reeth.
“Pretty much everything is customizable to the individual,” Ken said. “We are trying to take technology itself and expand its capabilities to provide services to people with DD on a broader spectrum.”
When Wynn-Reeth first began providing remote monitoring services in Ohio, some families and county boards had concerns that it would feel like constant surveillance.
“The approach we wanted to go with is a ‘passive reactive’ approach. Something happens to tell us to look — the rest of the time we are not looking,” Ken said. “It allows us to get away from that ‘Big Brother’ type of feel and be there as a support person. We can be there to help them through a situation. The rest of the time, they can live their lives and do what they want.”
About 170 people use remote monitoring in the state of Ohio. Some people want reminders sent to them electronically to take medication or complete a task. Others prefer the experience of a video call. Sensors and cameras are just a few of the options available.
“We are using technology in any way we can to try to maintain their health and safety in a better and more effective way,” he said.
Wynn-Reeth, located in Green Springs, Ohio, started as a direct care provider in 1994. Although the company offers adaptive equipment and technology, they’ve stayed true to their roots in person-centered support, Ken said.
“Just because we are using technology, we don’t want to take the human element out of it,” Ken said.
The Wynn-Reeth employees in the monitoring center are all trained direct service providers. They are certified providers who study individual support plans and work to get to know everyone on their caseload.
“We view our job as the same as a direct care provider,” Ken said. “They get to know people very well.”
If people and their families are interested in learning about remote monitoring, Ken suggested they ask their service coordinator and get more information.
“Our experience through using this has been that a person’s life is more fulfilled,” he said. “I would say in 75 to 80 percent of the cases, all the concerns people have had prior to remote monitoring, we seldom see those concerns come to the surface again…To that effect, at least 15 percent or more of the people we provide services to have graduated off of remote monitoring. It’s no longer needed and they are doing fine. I would encourage families and guardians to at least have the conversation.”