Bancroft unveiled its Smart Home project in Cherry Hill, a first-of-its-kind program in New Jersey that explores how technology can help enhance safety, increase independence and improve quality of life for adults with disabilities — and help address longstanding challenges with the direct care workforce.
Ten group homes throughout the region have been outfitted with a variety of sensors and devices to create an ecosystem that can be customized to the needs, abilities and goals of the individuals who live there.
In late September, Bancroft hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony at one of the 10 homes, showcasing the technology and bringing together representatives from the state, families of those supported in the home and constituents from the community.
“This is part of our commitment to leveraging technology to care for those who rely on us.” Toni Pergolin, Bancroft CEO and president, said. “We are eager to continue pioneering down the path of innovation and we are grateful to Sen. Nilsa Cruz-Perez and Assemblywoman Carol Murphy, who were so eager to help support and advance our mission in this way.”
Funded through a $500,000 investment by the state of New Jersey and the New Jersey Department of Human Services, the goal is to create a model for other providers in the state, revolutionizing the way Bancroft delivers care to those with significant support needs, and the way they engage with their world.
“I take great pride in supporting our disabled community with the highest quality of care; this is why I advocated for Bancroft’s Smart Supports Home initiative in the FY2023 budget,” Murphy (D-Cinnaminson) said. “Bancroft’s Smart Home model excels at supporting residents while providing front-line staffing efficiencies to limit the impact that the staffing crisis would otherwise have on care, so each resident can live their best life as independently as possible.”
“Often, when the state budget refers to innovation and opportunity, the first things that come to mind are job creation and the economy,” New Jersey Department of Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman said. “The smart home we toured today is an example of how investing in innovation can also improve independence, dignity and safety for New Jerseyans. On its own, each technological improvement is beneficial, but, when layered together, these appliances and sensors improve the quality of life for the residents and the peace of mind for families and caregivers.”
- SimplyHome Technology Solutions provide staff with alerts so they can monitor residents’ activities from a distance and intervene as needed as they learn to complete tasks independently.
- Biometric door locks make it easier for staff to enter the home without fumbling for keys when their hands are full, or when their attention is focused on the people they support. They allow residents to enter the house independently, removing barriers for those struggling with dexterity and fine-motor skills.
- Sensors for doors, beds, windows and water/cooking safety alert staff to unusual/unexpected movement; allow for less-invasive overnight bedroom checks; and track changes in sleep or other health indicators that may be concerning.
- In kitchens and bathrooms, sensors alert staff if water temperatures are too high, stoves are left unattended, sinks overflow and more.
- Smart lighting and smart plugs create a more comfortable living environment that can be customized to individual preferences.
- Voice assistants like Alexa enable residents to use simple, customizable voice commands for various tasks, fostering self-reliance and self-expression.
- Echo Show devices give residents agency over their daily schedules and tasks.
- Smart appliances simplify and reduce reliance on staff support for daily chores. They provide maintenance reminders, removing one more “to-do” from staff members’ lists.
- Induction ranges with specialized cookware let individuals learn to cook while reducing burn risks.
- Smart scales send weight, BMI and other health indicators directly to staff, minimizing documentation in cases where these are being monitored.
- Smart toothbrushes, automatic faucets and digital soap dispensers foster good personal hygiene habits, without the need for direct staff involvement in residents’ most private tasks.
- Robot vacuums make it easier for residents to participate in household chores.
- Medication dispensers ensure residents receive medications at the right time, reduce the risk of medication errors, and help those who are learning to self-administer their medicine.
- A customized app digitizes and streamlines required documentation — saving time during each shift and keeping the focus on people, rather than paperwork.