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The first prototype of the MedCottage was unveiled today – a portable, modular medical home designed to make it possible for families to take care of loved ones on their property as an alternative to long-term care facilities.
The 12-by-24-foot MedCottage, loaded with technology and amenities for the health, comfort and safety of the elderly or those recovering from illness or injury, was developed as an alternative model for healthcare as 78 million baby boomers prepare for their senior years – potentially straining nursing homes and government-funded healthcare programs.
“The MedCottage model for healthcare offers a totally new paradigm,” says the Rev. Kenneth Dupin of Salem, founder and CEO of N2Care and the innovator behind the MedCottage. “With a daunting reality looming, we must, as a society, consider every option to take pressure off the system. The MedCottage is such a cost-effective alternative – and baby boomers are ready for new options for aging in place.”
The MedCottage can be purchased or leased and temporarily placed on the care-giving family’s property with features that most hospital and nursing home rooms are denied. Like an RV, it connects to a single-family house's electrical and water supplies.
It’s already authorized for use in Virginia and is designed to comply with local zoning ordinances throughout the nation. Earlier this year, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell signed into law HB 1307, “Zoning Provisions for Temporary Family Healthcare Structures.” McDonnell is scheduled to travel to Salem on Aug. 4 for a ceremonial bill-signing reflecting the launch of MedCottage.
“Comforts of a home setting, proximity to loved ones and access to a whole new level of medical technology are merged into the MedCottage,” Dupin says.
MedCottage contains a family communication center that provides telemetry, environmental control and dynamic interaction to off-site caregivers through smart and robotic technology throughout the charming, comfortable modular home at costs less than a hospital or nursing home.
The Virginia-made MedCottage is equipped with the latest technology to monitor vital signs, filter the air for contaminants and communicate with the outside world via high-tech video and cell phone text technology. Sensors alert caregivers to an occupant's fall, and a computer can remind the occupant to take medications.
The technology also provides entertainment, offering a selection of music, reading material and movies. “With changing family structure and lifestyles over the past century, research demonstrates that end-of-life care is emerging as the most pertinent concern for the baby boomer generation,” Dupin says. “Boomers have a particular fear of being isolated from family and institutionalized in the final stage of life. Consequently, there is a need in the market for an innovative alternative to care for the aging population unlike any current options for end-of-life care.”
The idea, Dupin adds, came to him after years of leading humanitarian missions to developing countries, and it was encouraged by a growing sense of his own mortality. The MedCottage features three rooms:
- A kitchen with a small refrigerator, microwave, washer-dryer combination and medication dispenser.
- Bedroom with hospital-caliber bed and additional accommodation for a caregiver’s visit.
- Bathroom with a host of smart devices, including a toilet that measures weight, temperature and urine content.
- A virtual companion that relays health-related messages (such as medication reminders).
- A video system that monitors the floor at ankle level, so the patient would have privacy but a caregiver would know if there were a problem.
- Pressurized ventilation that can keep airborne pathogens in or keep outdoor air out.
- A lift, attached to a built-in track in the ceiling, that can move a patient from bed to bathroom so the caregiver could avoid heavy lifting.
- Lighting at knee height illuminating the walls and floors – the most common cause of falls.