A $4 million round of state grants will go to 12 organizations to support technology that can help people keep medical appointments, manage their front doors, connect with home and community-based services and combat social isolation.
Nearly 600,000 Minnesotans live with a disability, and more than 950,000 are 65 or older. Together, these two groups account for more than a quarter of the state’s population. Although research finds that people with disabilities and people over 65 are much less likely to use the internet, the COVID-19 pandemic showed how devices, apps and internet access can support people to live independently.
“Many of us take for granted how much we rely on technology to conduct the business of daily life,” said Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead. “These grants will improve access and lower tech barriers for Minnesotans with disabilities and older Minnesotans.”
The grant recipients are listed:
- Access North Center for Independent Living of Northeastern Minnesota, Hibbing, $96,000. A long-term loan program will help homeowners install video doorbells and voice-activated deadbolts that allow them to identify, talk with and let in visitors. These devices promote safety for older adults and people with disabilities living independently.
- Accord, St. Paul, $663,000. Technological resources and assistance will benefit people with disabilities who receive home and community-based services in Mount Olivet Rolling Acres group homes. Use of technology will reduce barriers to care and help more clients achieve their own person-centered goals.
- CareMate Home Health Care, St. Paul, $100,000. Remote patient monitoring technology, such as wireless oximeters, weight-monitoring systems and diabetes-monitoring tools, will help reduce emergency room visits for older adults with chronic conditions.
- DARTS, West St. Paul, $54,000. A TechBuddy program will match young adult volunteers with older adults for training to use tablets, cell phones, computers, printers and TVs.
- Independent Lifestyles – A Center for Independent Living, Sauk Rapids, $379,000. Identifying barriers to technology use for people with disabilities will help target training for clients to use different technologies.
- Kang Le, Eden Prairie, $142,000. Chinese and Vietnamese elders and people with disabilities will receive iPads, iCloud access and other applications and technical assistance.
- Lighthouse Center for Vital Living, Duluth, $642,000. Internet access, cell phone subscriptions, device setup, troubleshooting and digital literacy training will increase clients’ access to health records and allow them to confirm medical appointments and complete job applications online.
- LiveLife Therapy Solutions, Bloomington, $743,000. Technology for older adults and people with disabilities will include tablets, internet connections, head mouse devices, equipment for positioning and other assistive technology.
- Minnesota CarePartner, St. Paul, $372,000. Participants with home and community-based services will receive laptops, computer mice and internet assistance. In-person digital navigation will help them purchase, set up and connect online.
- Northwoods Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers Program, Bemidji, $25,000. Hotspots, RING cameras and monitoring and Lorex Smart Home Security Centers will help older adults and family caregivers for people with dementia connect to evidence-based health programs.
- Senior Community Services, Minnetonka, $673,000. Low-income older adults in the Twin Cities area, including Black, Indigenous and People of Color, veterans and LGBTQ people, will receive one-to-one support to obtain, set up and use technology and internet service.
- Wright County Community Action, Maple Lake, $111,000. Individual case management technology support, connectivity and ad hoc services through in-person events will serve low-income older adults in Wright County.