Bob Ellwood in Cadillac Miller-Meteor Sentinel

If Remote Support is Needed in Your Neighborhood, Who You Gonna Call? Bob Ellwood

More and more disability support organizations are incorporating remote support into their list of existing services. Remote support is not only more efficient with staff hours, it’s also an inherently more independent way to receive support. Because we make the premier technology platform to facilitate remote support, GrandCare has been growing to meet that increasing demand. Who’s going to take care of all these new customers? That’s where Bob comes in.

Robert “Bob” Ellwood earned a degree in criminal justice from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. With designs on law school, he decided to first take a couple of years off to work at a juvenile detention center. Bob found this kind of work so rewarding that he changed his law school plans and embarked on a 15-year stretch in human services, playing a variety of roles. Bob knows what it is to be on the front line, caring for those who need it.

Working in human services led to a sales position at a personal emergency response system. And, earlier this year, Bob was recruited as the latest addition to the GrandCare sales team.

GrandCare, which has had staff positioned in the Midwest and West Coast for several years, is thrilled to have representation now on the East Coast, where Bob lives.

Being the new guy means he’s learning more about GrandCare every day.

“The coolest feature [about the GrandCare touchscreen] is customization,” Bob said when asked what he found unique about GrandCare. “No two touchscreens are the same, not just the fact people may have different rules for motion or activity, but having your own videos, playing the games you want, stuff like that. Really leads to higher usage. So different from the PERS industry, where I’d frequently tell people the systems are no good if the user doesn’t want it. People want the fun stuff – videos, games, etc. They come for the videos, stay for the med reminders or motion sensors.”

In his spare time, Bob enjoys cheering for, and being driven mad by, his beloved NY Mets, NY Giants, and NY Islanders, reading, history, attending his daughter’s sporting events, horse racing (“I owned 1% of a horse once”), and spending time with friends and family. Bob lives with his wife and 8-year-old daughter just outside of Philadelphia.

Want to talk to Bob about your organization’s remote support needs? Contact us.

39th Annual CSUN Assistive Technology Conference March 18-22, 2024, Anaheim Marriott

Technology First Session at the 39th Annual CSUN Assistive Technology Conference

With staffing shortages plaguing the nation, I/DD and mental health agencies are eager to transform their services into a technology-first model. So, what now? How do you get started? Which technology should you use? How do you staff and integrate it into your existing service model? How long will it take to start saving money?

Laura Mitchell, CEO at GrandCare, and Brian Hart of ShiftAbility will walk attendees through the process during this year’s Annual CSUN Assistive Technology Conference. Learn how agencies have used technology tools and staffing strategies to run their remote support services while reducing costs and improving outcomes.

The Technology First Transformation – Are You Ready?
Thursday, March 21, 2024 – 3:20pm PST
Elite 1-3, Anaheim Marriott

GrandCare is a remote monitoring and remote support platform that helps people with disabilities live more independently. And it helps agencies support more people without more staff, thus helping alleviate staffing shortages. GrandCare is a touchscreen-based solution that has automated medication and ADL prompts, video instruction, and one-touch video calls to remote support. The GrandCare platform uses motion and door sensors to alert remote support that something is amiss. It is also a fully featured telehealth platform so people can better manage their chronic health conditions. And GrandCare also has engaging games and entertainment that is customizable to suit everyone’s taste and interests.

ShiftAbility is a transformation consulting group that assists agencies in making a shift to technology-first using GrandCare and the Smart Living Model.

GrandCare and ShiftAbility will also be exhibiting. You can find us at booth 415 in the Marquis Ballroom.

Exhibit Hall Hours

  • Tuesday, March 19 from 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm (Preview Night exclusive to registered conference attendees only)
  • Wednesday, March 20 from 9:30 am – 5:30 pm
  • Thursday, March 21 from 9:30 am – 5:30 pm
  • Friday, March 22 from 9:30 am – 1:30 pm

Anaheim Marriott
700 West Convention Way
Anaheim, California 92802
Reservations: 877-622-3056
Hotel: 714-750-8000

Follow #CSUNATC24 on social media for the latest.

Job vacancies noticeboard

How to Reduce Overnight Staffing and Provide BETTER Remote Support

If you’re experiencing overnight staffing shortages, an increased population of clients who need support, as well as burnout for existing staff, you are not alone. Disability Service Support Agencies find themselves with the frustration of a client population with support needs and not enough physical staff to meet those needs.

We have good news. Assistive technology can help and sometimes even reduce onsite support hours by implementing a remote supports model powered by industry leader, GrandCare Systems.

And what if we told you that not only will your organization save money, but your staff will be more efficient and your clients will experience more independence. Sound too good to be true? It’s not, and we have several studies to prove it.

Many of your clients may need occasional help in the overnight hours, but maybe not every single night and it certainly isn’t necessarily all night. Having a staff member on site for an eight hour shift every single night is a very costly and inefficient way to solve for this kind of need.

Consider the following scenario.

Safely Reducing Overnight Staffing Hours for Marco

Marco has a few things he needs help with and he has engaged a support agency to provide that help. One of the concerns is that he has a sleep-related eating disorder. Occasionally, he’ll get up at night, go to the kitchen and eat a lot of things he shouldn’t. In some cases he might eat things that aren’t even food, creating an even more dangerous situation. For this reason the agency recommended that they have a support person there during the overnight hours.

On the occasion that Marco did get up and make his way to the kitchen, the support staff would wake up and simply say “Hey, Marco, it’s 2 o’clock in the morning. Don’t you think you should go back to bed?” Marco would often nod and go back to bed. In his case, Marco only needed that brief conversation to remain safe.

Now Marco is receiving this support remotely. When he gets out of bed, a motion sensor alerts the remote support staff that there is activity in his kitchen. Then the remote support staff member drops in on the kitchen GrandCare touchscreen to assist him in going back to bed.

Marco no longer needs an overnight staff person and he still has 24/7 available support.

But there are many “Marcos” in your organization.

The remote staff cater to Marco’s needs, but also can simultaneously be available to 21 other residents in the overnight timeframe.

Overnight staffing reduced from 1:1 to 1:22

The staffing ratio has now gone from 1:1 to 1:22.

Freeing up these staff members allows your agency to reallocate staff hours to serve more people and to help those who really do need in-person support.

Remote Supports Improve Care

In Marco’s case, he only needed about 60 seconds of support. Using a remote support model through GrandCare, he can get this support only when he needs it and feel more independent the rest of the time.

This not only improves Marco’s quality of life, but improves the lives of your caregiving team and organization.

Talk about a win-win!

Learn more about how GrandCare’s remote support features can help reduce in-person caregiving hours and overnight staffing. Contact us now to schedule a demo.

WCBDD Virtual Tech Showcase 2023

WCBDD Virtual Virtual Technology Showcase

The Warren County Board of Developmental Disabilities in Ohio will be hosting a Virtual Technology Showcase. It will feature presentations from a variety of remote support providers, assistive technology vendors and device companies, who will be explaining their services and demonstrating their products.

Scott Feldstein, director of US sales at GrandCare, will be introducing the GrandCare platform at 12pm ET (11am CT / 9am PT) on Thursday, December 7, 2023. This online event is free and can be accessed via Zoom.

Meeting ID: 829 5006 3014

WCBDD Virtual Tech Showcase

If you would like to reach out to Scott before or after the presentation, send us an email.

Congress Introduces Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Relief Act Bill

Congress Introduces Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Relief Act Bill

During the COVID-19 pandemic, states received extra funding for home and community-based services. This helped providers retain workers and allowed states to provide HCBS to more people. But with the additional funding ending, many people will lose access to HCBS and their independence.

What is HCBS?

According to CMS, “Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) are types of person-centered care delivered in the home and community. A variety of health and human services can be provided. HCBS programs address the needs of people with functional limitations who need assistance with everyday activities, like getting dressed or bathing. HCBS are often designed to enable people to stay in their homes, rather than moving to a facility for care.”

HCBS with Technology Supports

At GrandCare, we know the value of enabling people with disabilities to live independently. The GrandCare platform uses 17” touchscreens placed throughout the home. Residents rely on these touchscreens for medication reminders, to-do checklists, instructionals and one touch video calls with family and remote caregivers. GrandCare also uses activity monitoring sensors to alert the remote team if something needs attention. Wireless telehealth devices track vitals and can send notifications if they are outside designated thresholds. At GrandCare, we have personally witnessed how our technologies create better outcomes and happier residents, with far less strain on caregiving staff.

Who pays?

Fortunately, Congress has introduced a new bill, The Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Relief Act. The bill introduced by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, would increase much-needed funding for people with disabilities. If passed, it would provide dedicated Medicaid funds to states for two years to stabilize their HCBS service delivery networks, recruit and retain HCBS direct care workers, and meet the long-term service and support needs of people eligible for Medicaid home and community-based services.

Improve access to HCBS by increasing direct care worker pay and benefits
Decrease the number of people on waiting lists for HCBS
Pay for assistive technologies, staffing, and other costs that facilitate community integration

You can help!

The Arc of the United States, a non-profit that promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, is asking for people to send a message to Congress and ask them to pass the HCBS Relief Act.

Read more about the HCBS Relief Act of 2023 released by Senator Casey.

Mom Calls the GrandCare System “God-Send”

Touchscreen-based engagement and monitoring technology, GrandCare, enables communication between individuals and family members.

While we are no longer in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic, it continues to threaten the safety of the aging and disability population. This is why it’s so important to keep these individuals connected to family, even when a physical visit isn’t possible.

We are always pleased to hear the personal stories of how GrandCare helps our customers. We recently heard from one daughter who, after being exposed to COVID, was unable to visit her mother at memory care.

“Almost done quarantining from COVID, and I wanted to thank you because having the ability to check on my mom daily with the GrandCare System has been priceless!” said Sharon Emerich, who uses GrandCare to check in with her mother and her caregiving team on a daily basis.

“She continues to be fine (thank goodness), but I was able to let her know why I haven’t been visiting and I was able to communicate quickly with caregivers also. Mom calls the GrandCare System a God-send and [my husband] Kirk and I agree!”

The GrandCare system, a 17-inch touchscreen, has family photos, streaming radio stations, old-time radio programs, games and medication reminders. Residents can check in on the system and video chat with designated family members. Optional motion and telehealth sensors can notify caregivers if something seems amiss.

We want to hear your story! If you’d like to share your GrandCare experience with us, please send us a message.

Open Minds presentation by GrandCare

GrandCare Presents at Smart Home Expo: Innovative Technologies For The Consumer in Philadelphia this October

Join us for the first-ever Smart Home Expo on October 26, 2023, hosted by OPEN MINDS. As part of the OPEN MINDS Technology and Analytics Institute, this day-long event is dedicated to recent advancements in smart home technology that support independent and community-based living for persons with disabilities and older adults. The expo will feature innovative smart home technologies -both general and specialized–used today by health and human service agencies to support independence in community-based living.

Our own director of U.S. sales, Scott Feldstein, and our director of implementation & compliance, Hans Cabrera, will be presenting at 3:15pm ET. We will discuss issues in the disability/aging services and how technology like GrandCare can address those concerns. Issues like:

  • People with I/DD deserve as much independence as they can get, and receiving all the help they need through in-person support isn’t very independent.
  • States seemingly cannot fully fund the need for disability support services.
  • Even if the money was available, where would the workforce come from? There is a nationwide staff shortage crisis in every type of in-home care, including disability support.

About GrandCare

GrandCare Systems aims to reduce the staffing costs for disability and the aging population. Their touchscreen platform assists with cognitive needs, such as checklists, medication reminders, instructional videos, and more. The technology collects data through motion and telehealth sensors and alerts a remote support team. Learn more about how GrandCare Systems are reducing onsite caregiver hours, enabling independence, and cutting costs on staffing.

Scott Feldstein at Open Minds 2023

Han Cabrera at Open Minds 2023

More info at OPEN MINDS.

Disability Pride Flag

What is Disability Pride Month?

In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities ACT (ADA), which protects people with disabilities from discrimination, was passed. Disability Pride Month, observed every July, coincides with the passing of this landmark act.

Disability is a Large Minority Group

According to the CDC, 27% of the United States have some type of disability making them the largest and most diverse minority group. Those disabilities may include…

  • Mobility: including serious difficulties walking or climbing stairs – 12.1%
  • Cognition: difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions – 12.8%
  • Independent living: difficulty doing errands alone – 7.2%
  • Self Care: difficulty dressing or bathing – 3.6%

Why Disability Pride is Important

According to Easterseals, a nonprofit which provides disability services and support, “disability pride emerged in response to negative views of disability and to promote human rights. Many people view their disability as an integral part of who they are, rather than something that should be separated from their identity.”

We honor people with disabilities just as they are, as we continue to create and promote environments that conform to their needs and preferences rather than asking them to conform to the status quo. At GrandCare, we believe the best technology is the technology that works for everyone. We will continue to make our platform more and more accessible so that more and more people of various backgrounds and diversities can become part of the GrandCare family.

The Disability Pride Flag

Not familiar with the Disability Pride Flag? Here’s what it represents.

  • Black Field: Mourning for victims of ableist violence and abuse
  • Diagonal Band: “Cutting across” the walls and barriers that separate disabled people from society
  • Red Stripe: Physical disabilities
  • Gold Stripe: Neurodivergence
  • White Stripe: Invisible and undiagnosed disabilities
  • Blue Stripe: Psychiatric disabilities
  • Green Stripe: Sensory disabilities

Source: Wikipedia

Man brushing teeth

10 Things Disability Care Management Professionals Need to Know About Enabling Technologies

As a disability support professional, you already know a lot about enabling technologies. You may also know that the pandemic accelerated the adoption of remote support technology. Not only does remote supports and virtual visits keep supported people safe, it also has the benefit of helping with the current staff shortage so many agencies are experiencing. It also increases the independence and self-esteem of supported people.

What Are Enabling Technologies?

Enabling technologies are equipment or methodologies that support individuals’ independence in their homes. Devices can be as simple as a medication dispenser, a personal emergency response system, a smartwatch or smart fridge. Or, you may decide to opt in for a more fully-featured and robust solution like GrandCare Systems. GrandCare’s intuitive touchscreen interface provides your resident with self-supporting features such as cognitive assists, medication reminders, to-do task lists, routine check-ins, concierge service ordering and simple video chat features. Optional motion/door, lighting and telehealth sensors can be added to GrandCare for your staff to remotely monitor and assess the well-being of the resident.

But, how do you even get started? How does it work? What technology should you use? How would you actually integrate technology into your existing workflow model? These are all valid and important questions to answer. Here are 10 things disability support and aging service professionals should know about choosing enabling technologies for your organization.

What You Need to Know About Enabling Technologies

1. Assistive technology can mitigate staffing shortages.

Remote support technology allows fewer staff to support more people from a central location. Using a remote support model reduces windshield time and the time your staff spends waiting in someone’s home until such time they are needed. With GrandCare, your staff is engaged only when support is required. This allows fewer staff to support more people, plus the assistive technology can even help your residents to help and support themselves.

2. Investing in technology can save you money with a quicker ROI than you may expect.

In a study from Xavier University’s Department of Occupational Therapy, remote patient monitoring and telehealth technologies including the flagship platform, GrandCare Systems, showed increased client independence, reduced in-person caregiving hours, and cut staffing costs dramatically. LADD, a Cincinnati non-profit that supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, opened a smart home for four people in 2020. The Xavier study showed that LADD was able to safely reduce in-person caregiving hours by 75%. Prior to GrandCare and remote monitoring technologies, the cost of supporting these four people was $5,260 per week. Supportive technologies slashed the support costs by over 50% to only $2,607 per week. This represents a cost savings of $2,653 per week. That’s $137,941 per year. LADD was able to recoup the cost of all of their smart home technology (yes, even including the smart fridge and sensory relaxation room) in only 9 months.

3. Assistive technology allows your staff to shift focus to residents with higher support needs.

Most agencies have residents that don’t need 24/7 in-person staff support and some that always will. Why not save your limited staff for those who really need it and use assistive technology to help support those who can support themselves? Automated cognitive assists, such as notifications to brush teeth or take medication, can be provided on GrandCare’s touchscreen and be checked off by the resident. When your staff doesn’t need to be physically present at all locations, they can devote more time to individuals with high support needs.

4. Technology can reduce demand avoidance.

Providers have shared anecdotal stories about residents who were often non-compliant and exhibited problematic behaviors while receiving in-person staff support. But when they began using GrandCare’s assistive technology to nudge the residents on daily tasks and med reminders, it empowered the resident’s independence and self-esteem, plus many of those behaviors largely disappeared. This new way of receiving support put the individual in the driver’s seat and gave them the autonomy they desired.

5. The residents LOVE to interact with it, resulting in better outcomes!

In order to fully succeed with self-supporting technology, it needs to be intuitive, engaging and fun to use. That’s why the GrandCare touchscreen includes engagement features including games, jokes, workout videos, music, live radio, audio books and on-demand video chat. Plus, systems can be customized based on the supported person’s interests like sports, art, religion and food.

6. Enabling technology supports in-person staff.

Even people who receive much of their support remotely sometimes need in-person staff time. While your DSP is present in the residence, they can use the GrandCare touchscreen to check in, document how long they were there, which services they provided, and leave notes about their visit for the next onsite caregiver (also accessible remotely to the rest of the support team).

7. Data collected can be used as a tool to see patterns and provide better support.

GrandCare is a fully-featured telehealth platform. GrandCare can monitor glucose, blood pressure, weight, temperature and oxygenation. It can prompt a supported person to take a required biometric reading, and then wirelessly track, trend and record it for the remote support team. Graphs of health data can be reviewed by the support team so that problematic readings can be addressed before they become health emergencies.

8. It can provide a sense of community.

GrandCare has several community-enhancing features. Supported individuals with a common interest can receive curated content and event notifications. A Community can be about anything: stargazing, movie buffs, people with diabetes, or everyone who lives in a specific location. Community messaging and calendaring and photo sharing are available. If you choose, you can even enable video chats between touchscreens.

9. Smart assistive technology can decrease alarm fatigue for your staff.

Only be alerted when something needs your attention. GrandCare can be programmed to only send alerts based on set parameters. For example, staff could be notified of unusual activities like the front door being opened in the middle of the night, or if there isn’t motion in the kitchen at mealtime. You can also set up telehealth alerts if a health reading is “out of range”. Used in this way, GrandCare becomes a “no news is good news” system since staff are only notified when intervention is truly needed.

10. GrandCare can streamline the process.

Some of the things GrandCare does can be done with other devices, but it does one thing that none of them can: it puts them all on one interactive platform. So now your self-empowering supports, activity monitoring, telehealth monitoring, video check-ins and med reminders are all in one place for easy management.

Want to learn more? Contact GrandCare for a free demo and consultation.

Caregiver with mentally challenged senior man

Disability Care Staffing Solutions: How Enabling Technologies Are Solving the Provider Shortage

While many disability service providers struggle with staffing shortages, some are finding solutions to mitigate the problem, cutting costs and increasing independence and outcomes for their residents using enabling technologies.

We recently hosted an engaging discussion with three leaders from organizations utilizing enabling technologies such as GrandCare during our webinar, Combatting DSP Staffing Shortages with Assistive Technology. Our guest speakers included Brian Hart, the COO of LADD and the CEO of ShiftAbility, and Heather Weitz and Christine Gilbertson of Wisconsin-based provider, Opportunity Inc.

LADD is an agency in Ohio that, four years ago, wanted to use technology-enabled supports to change the way they delivered services. As they looked to solve a staff shortage, they devised a Smart Living model. “The Smart Living model is not just a piece of technology or software, it’s a new way of delivering services using technology first, value-added supports, a way we assess staff, cultural methodology of inclusive services, and a whole bunch of different models.” Out of that bore ShiftAbility, a consulting arm, as a way to share how to implement these models for other organizations.

A smart home uses technology like GrandCare touchscreens, sensors, health devices and med dispensers that work as a support system and other home technologies like smart refrigerators and stoves.

“There’s never going to be enough people to provide the support. If you want to provide more supports, you have to do it a different way.” Brian Hart.

Opportunity Inc. is a nonprofit organization in Wisconsin that provides supports in AFH (adult family home) settings and community supportive living settings. Heather and Christina work in the community supportive living program.

“GrandCare has given us a way to actually implement self-sufficiency. Instead of just having staff come in, teach them something and 20 minutes after we walk about the door they completely forget everything that we went through, with GrandCare we’re able to upload videos and add reminders. This has been a huge way that GrandCare has helped us get to the independent living skills and maintain those independent living skills,” said Christina.

A GrandCare system is a remote monitoring and remote support platform on a stationary 17-inch touchscreen that can be set on a countertop or mounted on a wall. The touchscreen can deliver cognitive assists in the form of reminders for ADLs, medication, calendar appointments and much more. It can connect with motion sensors in the home and health devices such as pulse oximeters. Notification rules, simple if-then statements, can be customized for each individual and their support team. The touchscreen provides secure video calls, plus the system includes games, live radio and other entertainment features.

“It helps with staffing as well. We have some clients in their own homes that just need us to go check that they took their medications. Now they can mark off that they did it, and if we need a visual we can video chat instead of having somebody go over. Some of them like that because they want their privacy,” said Heather.

Christina added that many of their high functioning clients use a button on the touchscreen to check in for the night, which sends a notification to the staff that they’re safe at home, and that allows the staff to focus on the people who they need to be physically present for.

“They like that they feel more independent. Instead of coming to us all the time they can go on to their own GrandCare system and look for their schedules, see if they have doctor appointments or when the staff might be coming, and what they’re going to be doing with staff that day.” Heather Weitz

What’s the ROI on Assistive Technology?

The first LADD smart home was part of a two-year study by Xavier University. Researchers set out to measure “occupational performance” (the ability to do everyday tasks without help), resident satisfaction, and the cost of care in the new smart home setting. The results were remarkable. LADD was able to safely reduce direct caregiving hours by an astonishing 75%. This had a profound impact on the cost of care. Prior to GrandCare and remote monitoring technologies, the cost of supporting these individuals was $5,260 per week. Supportive technologies slashed the support costs by over 50% to only $2,607 per week.

“The technology ROI is less than nine months. It’s getting even faster now as we get more efficient,” said Brian. “Each year we’re able to do more with the same amount of resources.”

Learn More

Want to learn more about the GrandCare technology, choosing residents, setting up tech, staff training and funding? You can view the recording of our webinar.

“The big issues we have in our field are staffing, funding and transportation. We can solve for a lot of staffing and funding using technology.” Brian Hart

Have questions or would like to see a free demo? Contact us.