Technology Reinforces Independence


Karen, supervisor of MOKA’s East Main Home, hears the familiar Ding! of her cell phone. It is just after sunrise and Karen picks up her phone to see a notification that brings her directly to a live video of Stephanie, a resident of the East Main Home.

Stephanie stepped outside onto the home’s front porch to listen to the bird’s chirp and sing their good mornings. Assured that everything is okay, Karen sets her phone down and continues on with her morning.

Going outside to enjoy the songbirds has become a daily routine for Stephanie, made possible, in part, due to the use of a wireless monitoring system. The camera allows Karen to monitor the points of entrance at the home when there are no employees physically present and begins recording when it detects any movement.

Stephanie says she “feels safe knowing the cameras are there.”

The home’s residents were already independent with personal care needs when the technology was installed in June 2019, allowing MOKA to reduce the amount of staff needed. This has been helpful given the national and local direct support professional staffing shortage. Between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., the home is not staffed, allowing employees to go home for a much needed break. During this time, Stephanie, Stephen and Brian rely on their phone, computer, and Amazon’s Alexa. “The use of technology reinforces that they are very independent on many things and drives a level of pride for them,” Karen says.

In the past, the individuals at the home may have gone directly to a MOKA employee with a question. Now they are able to ask Alexa or use Google to look up the answer. “They are increasing in their ability to try to problem-solve before calling employees for support,” Karen says. If needed, they can ask Alexa to call employees or family directly and are able to have a video chat with them. “This has proven helpful in times of emotional distress. Additionally, if someone has a minor injury at night and are unsure what to do, using the video chat capability, we can determine more effectively if they need immediate care.”

While the learning curve of the technology is ongoing, Stephen has been able to use it with ease. Not only does he ask Alexa to play music or tell him a joke, he also uses the digital assistant as a timer to assist with cooking and as an alarm to remind him to take his medications. As someone who is very tech savvy, Stephen has helped MOKA employees and his housemates learn to use the technology.

The implementation and use of technology in the home is a win-win for MOKA and the individuals.  Stephanie, Stephen and Brian, through their own effort and resilience, are able to learn and adapt to the technology. This has led to a feeling of empowerment and self-reliance that not only increases their independence in the home but out in their community as well. “Staff is still important to have, but if I have issues I don’t know how to solve, I can ask friends (or Alexa) instead,” Stephen says.

Story by Hannah McLouth. Photo by Lara Parent.