Peace of Mind broadband project seeks to help seniors stay in their homes, aid caregivers

In an effort to demonstrate to older Cook County adults the potential value for them in the broadband network currently being installed by Arrowhead Electric, the Cook County Broadband Commission and the county medical community have teamed up to conduct an Aging in Place demonstration project they’re calling Peace of Mind.

One objective of the project is to show how technology can be used to allow seniors to remain living independently in their own homes for as long as possible, while at the same time alleviating the concerns of their family caregivers, many of whom live at a distance and who worry about their loved one’s health and safety.  A secondary objective is to use these Aging in Place technologies to give county health-care professionals hands-on experience in the emerging field of telemedicine, which holds the promise of providing many new approaches to better serve their clients and patients via the internet..
The Peace of Mind project is funded by the North Shore Health Care Foundation and the Blandin Foundation. Partners in the project include the Broadband Commission, North Shore Hospital and Care Center, Sawtooth Mountain Clinic, Care Partners, Cook County Public Health and Human Services, Boreal Access, Cook County Higher Education and Arrowhead Electric Cooperative. The Peace of Mind project team includes representatives from most of these organizations.
The Peace of Mind project has been funded to support up to 10 demonstration clients. The clients selected for the demonstration will have a remote-monitoring system installed in their home.  The system will have a variety of features, but its main purpose will be to watch for areas of concern and notify the caregiver if those concerns should arise   .
Criteria for selecting demonstration clients include:
 The broadest possible range of client health and safety concerns.
 A range of client locations within the county.
 Both local and remote caregivers.
Each client and their caregiver – in most cases a family member – will be assigned a client coordinator from the project team, who will help them select a system most appropriate for the client’s needs. The coordinator will facilitate installation of the system in the home and conduct periodic follow-ups to ensure the client and caregiver are getting maximum benefit from the system.
An installed system consists of a base unit and selected sensors.  The sensors for each demonstration home are chosen case by case to address client and caregiver concerns. Sensors can detect, for example, a door opening and closing, a burner left on, the client’s weight or their blood pressure. The sensors communicate wirelessly with the base unit, a specialized computer. The base units can be programmed to watch for certain conditions and to take action if desired. For example, it might be programmed to turn on a hall light leading to the bathroom if the client is detected leaving bed between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Most base units look like a small flat-screen television and are designed for people who normally do not use computers. Clients select the information and communication options they want by touching the screen and making choices from simple menus.
The base units are designed to allow clients to hold video conversations with friends and family or send messages and photos. Clients also can select easily available information such as weather updates, news or information on areas of personal interest.
Each client in the demonstration will be sponsored by one of the partners in the project. To be considered, potential clients and caregivers should contact one of the following:
 North Shore Hospital and Care Center:  Kimber Wraalstad – (218) 387-3260
 Sawtooth Mountain Clinic:  Teresa Borak – (218) 387-2230
 Care Partners:  Kay Grindland – (218) 387-3788
 Cook County Public Health and Human Services:  Joni Kristenson – (218) 387-3605
 Boreal Access:  Jack McDonnell – (218) 387-9471
The partners can provide additional information about participation and explain the process by which potential clients will be selected.
Costs to participating clients (or their caregivers) include:
 The cost of their own high-speed Internet connection
 $99 per month subscription fee to GrandCare Systems, the national provider selected for this project.  All equipment and installation costs for the client are covered by the project.
Client selection will be ongoing until at least mid-2013.  The clients selected first will be those who already have or can get a high speed internet connection. Some client slots will be held in reserve until Arrowhead Electric can make broadband connections available to the most rural areas of the county.  Clients can end their participation at any time, but also will be free to continue using their systems long after the project ends.  Additional information about the project will be available in brochure form at each of the partner offices and online at Boreal.org.

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