Home and Community Options, Inc.

Light Speed Grant Recipient

Peter Walsh, Project Coordinator

Project Update

August 12, 2008


We met a major milestone in our development of a remote monitoring system last week when we gathered some staff and supporters together to view a demonstration of our remote monitoring system.  We have completed our installation phase and are now moving into the testing phase.  We intend to run a parallel test for several months to document the dependability and reliability of the system.  Let me share a few of the details of this system and why we are so excited about it.


First of all we have a residential program that consists of four adult men and their staff.  The men and their interdisciplinary team worked with our remote monitoring team to develop the conditions under which everyone could agree that the men would be safe and appropriately supervised during the evening hours using remote monitoring.  These conditions are all delineated in a document called an “Informed Consent”.  The Informed Consent will be a fundamental document in our request for a variance from the Minnesota Department of Human Services to use our remote monitoring program in an adult foster care setting.  The details of the Informed Consent document are too lengthy to share here but some of the key technology requirements are:  remote video supervision of all public spaces, remote two-way audio communication in all public and private spaces, all first floor doors and windows alarmed; smoke and fire alarms, a security system linking all alarms and devices to the remote monitoring sight, and finally, a call escalation program that guarantees a physical presence in the home in the case of crisis. 


We have created a portable remote monitoring station that links to all the monitoring devices in the home.  This portable unit can be run from any of our other program sites linked to our network.  It is our intention to use an existing overnight staff to provide the remote supervision, thus saving the cost of one overnight staff.  The design of the remote monitoring system allows the supervising overnight staff to sleep.  When an incident occurs at the home the remote monitoring station requires a response from the night attendant.  We have built in a couple of ways of waking the staff but if he/she is unable to respond for some reason the system will alert an on-call staff to go to the house.  This is part of our call escalation program that can be set up to call a list of staff that could respond to the home.  One of the features of the system is that once the program moves into the call escalation process it can only be resolved by someone physically being at the home.  An emergency call to 911 is automatically made if no one arrives at the home before the “fail-safe” time elapses.  The system has a number of built in redundancies and backups to ensure its dependability and reliability in case of power outages, phone disruptions, loss of internet and so forth.  There are also a number of conditions that need to be met every day in order for the remote system to be used.


It has taken us almost two years of development after a year of design to bring this system to the testing phase so yes, we were excited to gather and watch the remote video, engage in a two-way audio conversation with the folk at the home, monitor doors being opened and closed and to have the automated phone system kick in and make the calls from the call list.


We have set up the remote monitoring station in one of other program sites and are in the process of training the night attendant staff how to use it to supervise the home remotely.  While we are testing the system the regular overnight staff will continue staying at the test site but they will not engage with the men unless the remote system requests them to or if the remote system fails.  We will be running a number of test scenarios and documenting the results.  We are confident that we will need to make some fine tuning adjustments but excited to see the system go through its paces.  In a few weeks we intend to invite some interested colleagues to come for a show and tell session.  That will be another exiting milestone that I look forward to sharing with you.





light speed communityThe Blandin Foundation is supporting four standout broadband programs through the Light Speed program. The program’s purpose is to stimulate the deployment of bandwidth intensive applications that connect local institutions to area resident’s home. This post comes from a Light Speed community leader.

3 thoughts on “Home and Community Options, Inc.

  1. Peter,
    I love hearing about the projects – especially when they are going so well. I can’t imagine the time and scenario planning that has gone into project with the need for so many contingencies. I think you have thought of everything! When I work with people on their web sites I find that it is a time that they look at processes and how things can be done better offline as well as online. Did you find that to be the case too?
    Thanks! Ann

  2. I wanted to post Peter’s response to my comment as I thought it was so informative:

    Ann, Yes the planning and design phase was most important. We had a team that represented all aspects of the agency and a professional programmer. I led them through a design process that resulted in a design document that we then used develop the systems. An outcome of this process was that the final design was much broader in scope than just Remote Monitoring as it extended the features and functions of Remote Monitoring to other areas of care, such are medication administration. Once the group understood how understood that one of the functions was like a reminder system they wanted to be able to schedule medications and have the system call the home if the meds were not recorded as given at the specified time.

    Another key process was the meeting with the men and their Interdisciplinary Team (guardians, case managers, staff and other providers or professionals involved with supervising and evaluating their care) to indentify the actual conditions that would need to be present in order for the team to be comfortable with Remote Monitoring.
    This involved quite a bit of education about the Remote Monitoring system as well as some good discussion and clarification around privacy issues and appropriate supervision.

    We are at a critical stage and our funds are running out. We have some potential sources but nothing firm right now. I know it will work out, but right now I am starting to get nervous about funding for 2009.
    While we have the basic skeleton of the system functioning there are still a lot of important finishing touches that need to be developed in order to have a smooth functioning system. I would also like to be able to continue to experiment with different equipment to see if I can improve things.

    The Blandin grant has been a tremendous help. We certainly would not be where we are without it. Wish we had another year with you but what we have had has made a major difference for us. Thank everyone again for us.

    Peter Walsh
    Project Coordinator
    Home and Community Options, Inc.

  3. Pingback: Broadband boosts services to people with disabilities « Blandin on Broadband

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