MEMPHIS, Tenn. – With a $41,000 grant in hand, Meritan Inc., a provider of services to seniors and people with disabilities, plans to launch its Smart Home remote monitoring program in the coming months.
“The grant means we can finally pilot the program and try it out,” said Meritan president/CEO Melanie Keller. “We hope this will be a model program that any provider could duplicate.”
The grant from the Consumer Technology Association Foundation will allow Meritan to outfit two of its Memphis-area residential support homes with two-way cameras, monitors, sensors, electronic medication administration systems and iPads. Residents in the homes are mostly people with disabilities and senior citizens, but Meritan provides services for children in foster care as well.
The CTA Foundation is a public, national foundation that strives to link seniors and people with disabilities with technologies to enhance their lives.
“We want to be able to support people in the homes without having to have 24/7 staff,” said Keller. “The residents don’t really want someone attached to their hip 24/7 either.”
Initially, the technology will serve six people in two homes in the first year, hopefully by November.
“Once we work out the kinks, we hope that will be more,” said Keller.
Meritan obtain most of the equipment from Minnesota-based Sengistix, a company that provides a wide variety of coordinated sensors for a “complete package” of custom monitoring tailored to meet individual needs. The company’s response center continually monitors activity.
Sensors will be placed throughout the two residences, including on beds, toilets and stoves. The stove sensors, for example, turn off the stove if its left unattended for several minutes or more.
While Meritan needed grant funding to get the Smart Home program off the ground, Keller hopes it will pave the way for a change in the way remote monitoring is covered by insurance.
“We hope payers will see this program as worthwhile and benefitting people and the community,” said Keller. “Then maybe they’ll pay for the equipment and technology up-front.”