State using sensors to help people with disabilities

The state wants to use technology instead of constant home health aides to lighten the financial load caring for people with disabilities. (WSYX/WTTE)

The State of Ohio has started using technology to try to help people with disabilities and save taxpayers money. Governor John Kasich has put more money in his budget plan to use sensors instead of 24/7 care from a home health aide.

The Department of Developmental Disabilities started the program four years ago partly because of a shortage of aides.

"The technology in that case takes the place of a staff person," said Director John Martin. "It's one of those neat things where we're both good stewards of the taxpayers' dollars and it improved the quality of life of some of the folks we're serving."

The sensors can be used in a variety of ways. People with autism who function better with a predictable routine can have a sensor in their shower to make sure they're getting their morning started on the right track.

People who suffer seizures can have a sensor detect if they've fallen and might need help.

"People help me out," said Becky Ross who suffers from seizures and now has sensors on her floors to detect if she's fallen. "I can be more independent (with the sensors)."

If the sensors in Ross's home go off, she will get a video call to make sure she's okay. If she's not, emergency help will be sent to her home.

Currently 170 people have sensors like that installed in their homes. Gov. Kasich's budget would expand the program to cover roughly 600 people.

Martin said each person who uses that technology saves the state between $10,000 to $100,000 compared to the cost of having a home health aide.

Gov. Kasich's budget proposal has not been passed in the Statehouse. Earlier this month he announced he would need to cut $400 million from his plan because of falling tax revenues. He did not announce where those cuts would be made.

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