Increasing Independence with Technology

Michael is experiencing independence in a way he’s never known. And he loves it.

But he also feels safe, knowing that getting help if he needs it starts with one simple word: “Echo … ”

Thanks to readily available technology, Michael and his roommate are able to have staff available 24 hours a day, yet also have the privacy that comes with living on their own.

The two share an apartment. In a nearby building, two women served by Mosaic also share an apartment where a staff member is always present. Michael knows that all he has to say is, “Echo, call my staff,” and that staff person will respond.

“The staff can check on me,” he said. “They have the app, and they just call to check in on how I’m doing.”

It costs about $1,000 to have Michael’s apartment set up for his independence and safety, said Michael Tweedie, habilitative manager for Mosaic. It includes an Amazon Echo Show on a desk by the apartment door and an Amazon Echo Dot in each bedroom. The Ring security system is used to monitor doors and movement.

The technology is promising: it gives people a greater sense of independence while ensuring security, and it provides an immediate response even without a staff member in the apartment.

The only drawback? There’s no funding available to purchase systems like this. Mosaic must use gift money from donors like you because Medicaid does not fund this type of technology for people.

Michael uses the technology in many ways. He lets staff know when he is leaving his apartment, and his Echo device reminds him to take his keys so he won’t lock himself out. It makes sure he is up and moving in time to get to his job or other appointments. And with a few words—“Echo, call Kayann”—a friendly face and smile are just a few seconds away.

“I can (use the app) and have conversations with the individuals. I can provide guidance and education and it doesn’t matter where I am,” said Tweedie. “They have called me in the middle of the night looking for things from me. So the interaction that we have is actually stronger now that there’s technology in the program.”

It was a bold step for Michael, but Tweedie saw dramatically improved self-esteem and self-care within just a few weeks of having the technology in place.

“He used to not want to do chores because he had 24-hour staffing, and now you walk into this apartment and it’s spotless because Mike takes pride in his own apartment,” he said.

“The staff who work here really have actually developed a stronger bond with the individuals because they’re not in their apartment every single moment of the day. They’re there for the meaningful parts of their life—learning how to cook, learning how to do laundry. They’re able to really focus on building the strengths rather than just supervising 24/7.”

Finding new ways of being independent is a goal of many people Mosaic supports. Technology is one way to make that happen. I hope you’ll help—your gift can make a huge difference in someone’s life, as you can see by Michael’s story.

P.S.—To show just what a change this technology has made for independence and self-esteem, Michael’s roommate is considering proposing to his girlfriend because now staff are not present in the apartment all the time.

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