Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Data Says: It's Working!

A couple of weeks ago, members of Imagine!’s SmartHomes team met with researchers from Colorado WIN Partners to discuss some of their findings from their year-long study involving residents of the Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome in Boulder. The researchers were looking at how the technology in the SmartHome was impacting the residents’ lives, and recently they presented some of their preliminary findings.

The overall findings matched well with the goal of our SmartHomes project. For instance, the research showed a large increase in residents’ perception of their control over their own lives. One of the key reasons for using technology was to provide the individuals served in the home the opportunity to become more independent, so we were very pleased to see this result.

Other areas where the research showed positive increases among residents included: feeling safer in their new home, feeling respected by others around them, number of personal relationships, and access to resources the residents felt they needed.

Another interesting finding, one that fits well with our goal of delivering services in a more cost effective manner, was that the increases above were noted while residents also reported a decrease in the number of services and staff interactions. Given the current state of the developmental disabilities service delivery and provision system in Colorado and the nation, that is exactly the result we are hoping for, as it demonstrates that it is possible to provide quality services even as the resources available for providing those services continue to dwindle.

The research data showed us that we still have some things to work on, though. For example, the data showed little change in how involved residents felt they were in their community. Community involvement is the cornerstone of Imagine!’s mission, and we believe that technology provides an opportunity for increasing such involvement. As more technologies go online at the SmartHome, we feel we will start seeing an increase in community involvement. But seeing the current data reminds us we still have a way to go and encourages us to redouble our efforts.

We’d like to thank the researchers from Colorado WIN Partners for their hard work and dedication. Danette Muselman and Elizabeth Woodruff, along with their research mentor Yvonne Kellar-Guenther, have provided us with a great deal of actionable data. Thanks also to I.B.M., who provided a $10,000 grant to support the research.

The researchers will be creating a white paper detailing the results of the study, and we will share that with you when that is complete.

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