‘They’re not going to wait for the government or insurance companies to meet their needs’
BATH, N.Y. – The Full Circle America Steuben program is giving seniors in Steuben County the chance to age in place with the help of technology.
A program of the county’s Steuben Senior Services Fund, which supports area elders who want to stay healthy in their own home, FCAS connects older adults with technology to help them stay safe and give their caregivers or family members peace of mind.
“The idea is to get them to use technology at the level they want,” said Kate Paterson, program coordinator for FCAS. “We’re getting people and families connected.”
Technology available includes: personal emergency response systems; health self-management packages that monitor chronic conditions; door and motion sensors; and video cameras that can connect the senior to caregivers, physicians and family members.
A secure, HIPAA-compliant online platform also provides video chatting, virtual doctor visits, video monitoring, entertainment and education, as well as health care tools like wireless stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs and pulse oximetry devices.
Monthly subscriptions start at $129 or $299.
“The whole idea of this program is that it costs significantly less than moving into an adult care facility or nursing home,” said Paterson.
Full Circle America is a program that began in Maine by Dr. Allan Teel to support elders in their own homes by incorporating technology, social networking and an extensive volunteer network. Teel has spent the better part of a decade refining an operation model to implement the principles of his approach into a sustainable service business.
“Elders are not going to wait for the government or insurance companies to meet their needs,” he said. “If they find something that meets their essential goals, which is to stay in their own homes and live life with some meaning, they will embrace it.”
After six months, the Steuben program has just two subscribers, but Paterson said their goal is to have 50.
Once they have enough people on board, the group will work with Cornell University researchers to conduct a study to validate the program and, hopefully, get it covered by insurance.
“Telemedicine is the wave of the future but the big obstacle right now is reimbursement,” said Paterson.