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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Little Friends: Getting a glimpse of new technologies for service providers


In mid-June, I had the privilege of attending a conference organized and run by Open Minds. This organization is one that provides consulting services to service providers involved with supporting individuals dealing with behavioral health, mental health, and other challenges that they may be facing. The conference focused on helping service providers like us address factors affecting organizational strategy with the idea that what we would bring back would help us remain innovative and leading edge.

Opportunities to get away and “work on the business” as opposed to “working in the business” are few and far between, particularly given the challenges dealing with less staff than desired. However, the chance to hear about new ideas and technologies is exciting knowing the potential benefits that are headed toward those we serve.

One of the things that has grown in major ways has been the use of video technology in everything from educational services to therapeutic support. For some therapies, what once was being adopted at a rate less than one percent is now generally available and used about half the time by families and individuals needing therapeutic help. Supports like speech therapy have made great headway and are being used regularly utilizing video technology.

For adults seeking more independence, we intend to pilot the use of video and audio support in common areas for shared residence locations. While we are not the first to create what we are calling a “smart home,” the idea and use of resources to help individuals without necessarily being directly onsite blends independence into our support structure. Video and audio technology along with sensors make all this work and is something we are investing in during the second half of 2022.

Maybe the most interesting thing to me that is gaining traction was the idea of using wearable technology to track individual biomarkers. While a detailed explanation of how this works is admittedly above my pay grade, the use of this intriguing solution has the potential to help with individual behavior and sensing triggers that might otherwise be unnoticed. Having the ability to monitor heartrates and other indicators can give a caregiver insight as to how a person is feeling and even provide help with knowing something could be escalating to where the caregiver could start de-escalation techniques before a behavior became challenging. This could be a huge breakthrough and is promising if it can help some of the children with whom we work.

Not that anyone is surprised, but to remain leading edge, technology will play a key role with how we provide services in the future. I am excited to learn more and look forward to sharing things we implement in the time ahead!

Mike Briggs
Mike Briggshttp://littlefriendsinc.org
Mike Briggs is the President and CEO of Little Friends. Little Friends empowers clients with autism and other developmental disabilities to thrive in our community. Their groundbreaking programs and nationally-renowned staff provide lifelong opportunities for growth, so their clients can work, learn, play and experience the joy of life’s everyday moments.