MedCottageA 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.

We would love to hear your feedback on this long-term care option. Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts.

19 Comments

  1. tom

    Drives me a little crazy how senior care is all about impressing those of us that do not live there—you can dress them up all you want but they will not care for our parents the way we would want them to be cared for—why must we do all this PRETENDING—If you can take your parent home with you …….DO IT…..you will never regret it…….

    • Ann Napoletan

      Tom, it’s admirable that you are caring for your loved one at home, and I commend you. Each family’s circumstances are unique, though, making it unfair to judge decisions of others without walking in their shoes. Family caregivers are under so much stress and are often terribly self critical and mired in unwarranted guilt. It’s important that we don’t unnecessarily add to those negative feelings. For some of us, the absolute best thing we can do for our loved one is to find them a wonderful care facility and stay intimately involved in the care plan and process – each and every step of the way. In my case, that meant a 5-person adult family home specializing in ALZ care, providing a superior level of care as well as love and compassion at a level much of my family couldn’t even seem to muster. All the best to you and your family. ~Ann

  2. S R

    I like it as one of the tools available for seniors and their families! Do you know if some sort of city permit is needed???

    • Ann Napoletan

      According to the documentation, permits are dependent upon your locality, but yes – likely required. If you visit http://www.medcottage.com and fill out the short request for more information, they will email you several documents including Q&A, comprehensive specs, and layouts. Lots of good information.

  3. Susan Bishop

    Remembering each family situation is different, as was mentioned earlier is very true. With many women having families later we are finding more “sandwich” generation. With working mothers, who are also providing caregiving to parents. While something like this may seem cold and futuristic to some, it allows an aging parent to be on the property but have their own place. It also allows the family to be together at any time, dinner and family activities for example. Many of the medical sensor equipment is currently being used to uninvasively monitor cognitive decline, change in gait
    (Parkinson’s) for example, eating, sleeping patterns, that can indicate other serious health issues. Many older parents don’t want to move in with their adult children, and this can be a happy medium, allowing privacy and independence, with the closeness beneficial for the whole family. My guess is however, it is probably very costly.

    • Ann Napoletan

      Hi Susan, you make excellent points. More and more women are finding themselves smack dab in the middle of the “sandwich generation.” Talk about a balancing act!! There are definitely no easy answers. As far as cost, there is some pricing information on the MedCottage website. As mentioned in my reply to Mary, when you weigh this against the cost of assisted living, I don’t think it’s outrageous. Quality care of any sort comes with a very high price tag. At one point, I considered adding onto my house to make space for my mom. The MedCottage may have been a better choice. As with anything, there are pros and cons. It really hinges on personal circumstances, preferences, and finances. ~Ann

  4. Mary

    This would have been an excellent option for my elderly parents! One concern they had was “being a burden.” Moving in with us would have been too hard when we were already making their meals, taking them to doctor’s appointments, and managing their meds. Plus, this option would give the caregiver peace of mind that we didn’t have when mom and dad lived by themselves. And after mom passed, dad continued to live in his home alone, refusing to wear any emergency call buttons for the same reason. I’ll be very curious to see the price range….

    • Ann Napoletan

      You can find some high level pricing information on the MedCottage website, Mary. While the units are certainly not cheap, when you consider the cost of assisted living, I don’t think they’re at all unreasonable. Again, it really depends on your loved one’s needs. You wouldn’t want to buy a MedCottage, and then hire a full time caregiver on top of that. But, if family memebers can handle the care, in the right situation, this option provides peace of mind to the family and a certain level of freedom and privacy to the patient. And, there seems to be an opportunity for future resale. Thanks for your feedback. ~Ann

  5. Mary

    I should have added moving in with us would have been hard on my parents, not us. They hated the fact that they were becoming a burden, and my dad eventually chose to move to assisted living for the same reason.

  6. Beverly

    Everyone’s case is different. I was blessed to be able to care for both my parents. I love the idea of the Medpods. Some people do not have the space in their own homes. Some parents do not want to live with their children. These pods have all the bells and whistles built in. I needed to upgrade each time my Dad’s Parkinson’s worsened. This takes time. I think they are fabulous. Keep the new innovations coming.

    • Ann Napoletan

      Absolutely Beverly – great points!! There’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution, but the more options we have available, the better! ~Ann

  7. Holt

    Preserving dignity and life as long as possible are steps in the right direction. This is an intermediary, private room option at a fractional cost of a nursing home burden for either the family to carry or the taxpayers to bear. In addition it accommodates the mobile transient culture of many active families today.

  8. Cheryl Parks

    I LOVE THIS MED COTTAGE IDEA, I WANT THIS SO BAD FOR MY MOTHER RATHER THAN PUTTING HER IN A NURSING HOME, SHE IS IN THE ADVANCED STAGES OF DEMENTIA ALZHEIMER’S NOW

  9. Jessie Parker

    This is perfect for those who have very close family ties. Very handy, accessible and comfortable. It is like having a personal long term care facility within your property. The best part of it that you’ll have a peace of mind because your love one is still in a very close distance with you. I think ill try to buy one in the future.

  10. Tara

    This sounds like a really good thing. I’m just wondering if some of the remote monitoring would include being able to tell if the stove is turned off. My grandmother is still very capable of taking care of herself, but even now the one thing she does sometimes is forgetting to turn the stove off.

  11. Tara

    Ok, nevermind. I re read and saw that it has a microwave but no mention of a stove.

  12. Paula Newman

    I think that these are amazing and would like one right now. We have been caring for my parents and in UK you get no help with adaptations or assistance with anything much until you reach down to £23,000 of available savings, then you get help.But you now cant afford any extra carers and there are elderly alone all across the country that a being given by the Government half an hour of care a day. Its a nightmare trying to care and needing to find out about equipment and knowing what to get. It would be heaven to have a perfect little place all set up and thought out arrive at the home. My poor father has been washed in front of everyone on a chair and has to go to the toilet on this as we have no bathroom facilites downstairs and have had to keep money for paying extra carers as we are so worn out now he has been obliterated by the over surgery, over drugging that happens to elderly in this country. Of course there is no diagnosis of chronic care as he is too old. RAF for 6 years but they dont want to help either. Sorry but I am so fed up with the lack of care of elderly and the lack of support for carers apart from shiny literature

    I read Ann Napoletan saying earlier, you wouldn’t want to get a pod and then have to pay for a carer but I disagree as far as UK Carehome fees are £1000 per week x 52 = £52,000 per year. That could buy you pod and there are plenty of carers that if you do not go through agencies but negotiate the price can be there if you get the 2 bedroomed pod.

    My only disappointment is that they only have a lifespan of 15 years as if you wanted to create a small community of them with say one central house as a meeting place, you would have to keep replacing them for other people.
    It would be so wonderful to be able to create elderly care solutions for those who do not have family that just do not want to be involved in caring and those who have no children. I would like to see the same concept but get those Formula One guys to help make the homes in carbon fibre and stop wasting massive amounts of money on toys that go faster when we have a major crisis in care.

  13. cathy mcgee

    All these pods seem to have space figured for a twin bed. What if both parents must live in this pod? In our case, a full or queen sized bed would be needed as would two lift reclining chairs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>