The Leonard Florence Center for Living (LFCL), an IAHSA member in Chelsea, Massachusetts, USA, is using cutting-edge technology to give more freedom to its residents with disabilities.  Take a few minutes to read this great blog entry, by our colleagues at LeadingAge, IAHSA’s American chapter, and learn about this innovative program:

Technology is helping individuals with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and multiple sclerosis (MS) find new freedom at the Leonard Florence Center for Living (LFCL) in Chelsea, MA. In addition to serving older people, the skilled nursing home allows younger individuals with severe disabilities to remain as independent as possible through access to assistive equipment, ventilator support and personalized mobile command centers.

Computerized Command Centers 

The ALS and MS residences are smart houses that promote and support independence regardless of the stage of an individual’s illness. Both residences are equipped with PEAC, a state-of-the-art automation solution for palliative care. PEAC provides a resident with his or her own computerized “command center,” which mounts on a wheelchair and allows the user to open and close doors, turn lights on or off, and surf the web.

Much of the technology in the ALS house was designed in consultation with resident Steve Saling, who was a successful landscape architect before his ALS diagnosis. Saling met Barry Berman, chief executive officer of the Chelsea Jewish Foundation, at a 2007 symposium about ALS. Berman had come to the symposium to learn about the disease while Saling came seeking information about what housing options would be available to him once his disease progressed.

“From there, an incredible friendship was born,” recalls Berman in the above video. “To take an individual who has been totally dependent … and to give (him) as much independence as technology allows, is a very significant contribution.”

National Replication 

Saling hopes that the success of LFCL will help spur the development of similar ALS residences through the country.

“The LFCL will show everyone that a vented life can be a quality life,” says Saling. “Most of what ALS takes away, technology can give back. The sad fact is that there are only 10 people able to live in the ALS residence at any given time.”

Designed according to the Green House model, LFCL is sponsored by the Chelsea Nursing Home Foundation, a LeadingAge and IAHSA member. The 6-story, 100-bed facility consists of 10, 7,000-square-foot, condo-style homes that each contain 10 private bedrooms, a dining area, open kitchen and common living room. One of LFCL’s 10 homes is designed specifically for individuals with ALS while another residence houses residents with MS.