A fairly recent entry into the long-term care and senior housing market is MedCottage, developer of high-tech, portable, modular homes (aka “Granny Pods”) that can be placed right on a family caregiver’s property. Sometimes referred to as accessory dwelling units, these homes are chock full of charm and available in several sizes ranging from 300 to 600 square feet.
Home Sweet Home
The units feature a cozy bedroom and handicapped accessible bathroom, along with a kitchenette that includes a small refrigerator, sink and faucet, cooktop, and microwave. A dishwasher and/or washer/dryer can be added as upgrades. Utilities connect directly from the homeowner’s property, and while the homes ooze comfort and warmth both inside and out, it is state-of-the-art technology that sets them apart.
Smart and robotic technology allows the “remote” caregiver to stay tuned in at all times, thanks to an internet-enabled communication and environmental control center. Family members are connected to the MedCottage via a computer dashboard that facilitates monitoring of various health and safety indicators, vital signs, and real-time images from cameras both inside and outside the unit. Caregivers can also control lighting, temperature, and ventilation remotely, and the technology package boasts configurable alerts via email, phone, and text message.
Other Features and Options
- Monitoring of front door status (locked/unlocked) via dashboard, as well as a security camera allowing the caregiver to view the entry area in real time.
- Programmable thresholds around vital signs with automated email or text notifications when a reading is outside the expected range.
- Medication management. A pre-recorded (by caregiver) audible message notifies the occupant when it’s time to take meds; if the pill dispenser is not opened after three notifications, a phone notification is sent to the caregiver. Over-the-counter meds can be dispensed at the push of a button, however the system prevents a second dose from being dispensed until the appropriate time has lapsed.
- Bathroom pull cord and necklace style emergency call feature. When activated, notification is sent to a predefined list of people, which can include emergency personnel if desired. Lights also flash outside the unit to assist in locating the home.
- Perimeter floor lighting triggered by motion sensors.
- Fall force reduction flooring.
- Ceiling rail with trapeze bar or battery operated lift.
- Motion sensors, which can detect and notify caregivers of abnormal patterns.
- Floor level fish eye camera to monitor for falls.
- Battery back up for power outages.
- Intercom and defibrillator.
- Advanced air filtration system.
- Smoke and CO2 detectors.
Peace of Mind: Priceless
As one would expect, all of this advanced technology comes at a price, and options can add up quickly. While currently there are no leasing or buyback options, those programs are expected to roll out in 2014. Under average conditions, the units are designed to handle seven placements over their fifteen-year life span, and the company will assist with resale for a small commission.
While this is certainly not the answer for everyone, the technology is astounding and under the right circumstances, MedCottage could be just what the doctor ordered. In a best of both worlds scenario, your loved one maintains a sense of independence and you retain your peace of mind by being in close physical proximity, having all of the tools you need to support their care and safety.
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