by Grace Miller

Walk into a cozy home on West Main Street in Westminster and look into the future — a future where in-home monitoring combined with compassionate care make it possible for adults with disabilities to live healthier lives.

Doctors and other caretakers have access to information about their patients that once took multiple visits or phone calls to glean.

Years from now, they will know “how long it took a client in the home to get from the bed to the bathroom, how many times they woke up in the middle of the night, their blood pressure, even the size of their stool,” explained Jason Stambaugh, one of the pioneers who helped The Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Innovation Collaboratory (MAGIC) open doors to the Smart Home on West Main Street.

The home is managed by Target Community and Educational Services, which hosted an open house in November to give approximately 40 invitation-only attendees a glimpse into the future of in-home care.

The home went live on Oct. 30, when it connected to the fiber optic network and Target staff started to shift client information from paper to unique software on iPads.

Ultimately, the house will not only collect health information based on the environment and behaviors of the client, it will also track details like “if the thermostat is up to 140, which indicates there is a fire — the Fire Department will have the home’s address and be there before anyone has a chance to make a phone call,” said Stambaugh.

Earlier and consistent access to information should translate to more proactive care rather than care because there is an issue, noted Jessica Musselman, director of residential living for Target.

In addition to working with Target’s clients, knowing their likes and dislikes and their routines, Musselman works as the bridge for the community members who work as a collaborative team with Target to move Smart Homes forward. The team includes city leaders and Point Breeze Credit Union. In November, Point Breeze hosted a Community Care Challenge and awarded MAGIC, the first-place winner, $10,000 to implement the Smart Home idea.

“Our entire team was inspired by the Smart Home Project for the significant impact it will have on clients’ lives,” said Bernie McLaughlin, CEO of Point Breeze Credit Union. “MAGIC’s use of broadband technology is the way of the future and positions Westminster as a leader in the technology community. We are honored to be a part of such a vibrant community and to support this worthy initiative.”

Over the next five to ten years, the Smart Home team hopes to link the West Main Street home to other Target Community and Educational Services homes in the community.

“By then, we will have the tools to predict and prevent health problems for individuals, groups of people with specific diseases, and ultimately improve the health of the broader community,” said Amy Rupp, executive director of MAGIC.

“This is all cutting edge, forward thinking, innovative,” said Westminster City Councilman Ben Yingling. “It’s way ahead of the curve.”