Pulling It All Together
Expand the Team
The first choice providers make is whether to team up with a technology vendor or provide the technology in-house. Once the team has identified what the individual would like help with, technology options and potential vendor outreach may begin. Reaching out to vendors for presentations, purchase discussions, rentals, trials, and service options will help to assess whether they will be a good partner or whether proceeding independently is a viable option. When making the decision, be sure to think through the entire cost, including the time and expertise needed to assure the success of the service.
and the Arc Tech Toolbox
, a resource developed by The Arc to find and read reviews on available technology options, are good sources to locate vendors.
Staff training is another key component during the team’s expansion.
Discussions should take place with staff detailing not only the benefits of the technology for the person supported but how utilization is an important step in extending their reach as care givers as well. It is important that staff are supporters of the technology as they can be an influential entity and are often times the main contact for individuals and their families.
Staff may also have concerns regarding the evolution of their role within the company, job security, and how the technology will impact them. They will often want to know how data from technology will be used and worry about how the technology might be monitoring them in addition to the individual.
Be careful not to over promise during discussions with staff. Think through the rights staff members have and how those differ from rights of individuals and their guardians. For example, staff may be given the right to be informed that there will be cameras in the home where they work, but their consent to those cameras is not necessary. It is important to listen to all staff concerns and be prepared with answers.
A few examples of concerns/fears might be:
- Catching them doing things wrong
Technology can be a powerful tool to prove they have done things right, even if/when bad things happen.
Fear of losing their job
Talk about the last time your agency was fully staffed and how the most critical concern for all providers is not having enough staff. Any qualified person who wants to be a DSP today will have a job. Acknowledge there may be changes in their jobs/roles so that they can best use their time and talents to support people.
Staff may have reservation about how the collected data will be used and who might have access to the information. Ensure staff is provided with a clear understanding of when they are being monitored, what is being collected, and who is able to view it.
Assess Any Roadblocks
Barriers may happen at any point in the process, and some items could continue to pop back up. Check in with team members and staff often to gauge how they are feeling about the plan and be ready to respond to questions or concerns.
If the family or self-advocate is not on the same page:
Go back to the conversation and have a deeper discussion about fears and concerns. Try to breakdown fears and concerns to the most basic, measurable level (ex: what if she wakes up during the night and does not feel well, what if someone breaks into the house, what if he or his roommate start a fire, etc.).
- Share success stories to show self-advocates and family members what others have done in situations that may be similar to their own.
Teach them about technology that can help their specific situation by bringing them into educational discussions with potential vendors.
Often times individuals are more concerned about what might be taken away than what might be added. For example, adding the technology may not be the issue for families/self-advocates, but reducing on-site staffing might be.
If the case manager is not on the same page:
- Walk them through the entire process (funding, regulations, CSSP requirements, etc.) so they are comfortable being an advocate and/or help them ask the right questions of supervisors and/or DHS contacts.
Share success stories and/or case studies that are relevant. This may include referring the case manager and/or their supervisor to peers that are successfully using technology, or to resources at the Department of Human Services (DHS). ARRM may be a good resource for each of these approaches as well.
If working with a technology vendor, identify any trial options they have and inquire about any gradual transition plans they have seen work. If supplying the technology in-house, look for ways to rent or loan expensive equipment to lessen the financial impact as you assess what will work for your organization.
Providers need to secure consent from individuals and families prior to proceeding with the plan. Before requesting signatures, it is best to know advocates will agree. From the beginning stages of having the conversation to early planning, providers should have a good sense of the desires of the self-advocate(s). If the advocate is hesitant, help to empower them in their decision. Be sure to educate them on their rights—especially when giving consent, ensuring them that it can always be withdrawn. It is not a one time action, and they are not giving up control. Additionally, it is good practice to get the case manager’s consent that they are on-board.
Read about common questions and answers surrounding informed consent and individual privacy