The Planning for Family and Self-Advocates


The Planning

Planning is a continuation of the conversation held between individuals, families, case managers, and providers. During these initial conversations, it was found that the desired lifestyle of the person-served would be able to be achieved through the addition of technology supports.

During the planning phase, a formal exploration of possible technology solutions occurs. At this stage, it is important to remember that family members and self-advocates do not need to be the experts. Family/self-advocates should look to engage experienced professionals and focus on the pros and cons of each option to ensure comfort with the tool(s) chosen.

Getting Started

Identifying the goals of both family and self-advocates is an important first step. As planning begins:

  • Write down your/your family member’s goals. Be honest and clear about what your/your family member’s desired lifestyle looks like. Reviewing these goals frequently will help to remind you of what you are looking for as you assess options. Writing down concerns and fears, being as specific as possible, is also beneficial during this stage.
  • Hold case managers, service providers, and others accountable to identify as many reasonable technology options/sources as possible for you to examine and compare. Be willing to do your own research as well to bring back to the team.
  • Ask questions to make sure you understand not only the technology itself, but the support systems around the technology (e.g. what role will on-site or remote staff play; what happens if somethings goes wrong; what are the data security measures in place; if video/audio is involved, how will that data be secured, shared, used, etc.).

Pulling It All Together

Expand the Team

Your team may consist of you, your family member(s), service providers, vendors, and case manager. Many of your team members may already be in place. As you take this next step to plan new services, it is important to keep your goals in mind in order to know which team members will expand with you and where you will need to add additional expertise on technology solutions, regulations, or other essential knowledge.

IF YOU HAVE A SERVICE PROVIDER AND CASE MANAGER ALREADY INVOLVED: Compare the proposed plan to your goals, expectations, and specific fears/concerns. If you feel the option(s) being suggested are not in alignment, continue to challenge the plan—being as specific about your concerns as possible. If you believe there is an option that will better fit your goals do not be afraid to continue advocating for it. Be open to potential compromise(s) such as an altered start date and/or a phase-in plan if the team is getting stuck.

IF THERE IS NO SERVICE PROVIDER INVOLVED: You may be the primary researcher of options and possibilities and will most likely be working directly with the technology vendor(s) to assess their ability to meet your/your family members expectations. Be clear with your case manager about what assistance you need in order for them to help identify potential technology options and secure any needed funding.

Assess Any Roadblocks

When moving from the conversation to the planning phase, it is important to have everyone on the same page. Sometimes this is not always the case and not all parties can come to an agreement. If you and your family member(s) are finding that you are not on the same page as your provider(s) and/or case manager, there are still options available to help you move forward.

If your provider is not on the same page as you:
  • Share success stories and/or case studies with them outlining the business impact. Some examples may be found in the Resource Library.
  • Reach out to technology vendors directly to team up with your provider. 
  • Find a provider that specializes in the area of technology you feel may best meet your/your family member’s goals.
If your case manager is not on the same page as you:
  • Enlist provider(s) to discuss benefits with your case manager.
  • Share relevant success stories and/or case studies showing effective uses of technology by others. ARRM and DHS are both good resources for this approach.
  • Ask your case manager to reach out to others in their department/network/other counties that have already started using technology.

Evaluate Options

Once the team has worked through the potential uses of technology and related supports, the original goals, concerns, and fears raised during initial conversations should be revisited. Through the exploration process, goals may have been modified and hopefully concerns and fears became more specific as options were discussed. Keep the below items in mind when assessing which options fit the desired lifestyle of the person served.

  • Ask questions to better understand how the technology works, what safeguards are in place, and what would happen in specific circumstances (ex: if meds aren’t taken, return time from work is not when expected, power goes out, etc.). If you have remaining fears or concerns, continue to ask questions until you feel comfortable with the technology itself, as well as the protocols and safeguards in place.
  • If you have questions about the proposed technology support, ask to meet with the vendor to learn more about how it works and who they are. If your service provider plans to provide, manage, or assist with the technology, ask them about their expertise and how they will assure the proper support is in place.
  • It is not uncommon for you to reach out to providers and vendors directly to get your questions answered—doing so does not commit you to utilizing their services, but may help calm any remaining concerns and answer lingering questions you might have.
  • Most technology vendors and many service providers who utilize technology use an assessment and/or planning tool to determine the appropriate technology and approaches for individuals. You may want to participate in that process or ask to review it before it is finalized. An assessment example may be found in the Resource Library.
  • Be clear about what you want to accomplish, such as: have time without staff, know who is entering or leaving the residence, ensure medication is taken on time and/or independently, get help from on-site staff if/when needed.

Get Approvals

When utilizing monitoring technology, informed consent must be obtained by all individuals affected by the proposed technology. Family/advocates will need to gain approval from the person served and give consent to move forward. Consenting is an ongoing process, and it can be withdrawn at anytime. Family/advocates will be working with case managers to ensure signoff is achieved at the agency level and all approvals are obtained.

Learn more about informed consent and individual privacy—how it works and what is needed.

Next Steps

Once everyone on the team is comfortable with the plan, funding options will be looked into by your case manager and/or provider. If your plan involves a move into a new apartment, it can be helpful to work through a checklist to help assess various needs and steps to take before move in. View a sample checklist in the Resource Library.

If you have additional question about Planning, ask one of our Mentors.

There may be a delay as you move from the planning phase to the implementation phase while paperwork and sign-offs are completed. To help keep the process moving forward, continue to check in with your case manager for an update on the process and offer assistance, if needed.

Seek funding


Monitoring Technology: Informed Consent and Individual Privacy When utilizing monitoring technology, the issues surrounding informed consent and individual privacy

Though experiencing health issues that would ultimately require her to need more intensive care, including possible round-the-clock assistance, Angie wanted to maintain her independence and continue to live on her own without being reliant on a staff person constantly in her home.

This checklist is to be used when a client/team feels an apartment setting would be an option for a client.

A proven way to increase both independence and privacy of the person served, this newer monitoring practice is called Alternate Overnight Supervision and can be utilized following a formal assessment of the individual and once informed consent has been given by the person served. Along with obtaining an AOST (Alternate Overnight Supervision Technology) License, defined policies and procedures must be in place.

For people looking for assistive technology resources to help them, or those they care for, live more independently, Pacer Simon Technology Center (STC)  is one gr

Technology advances in the last decade have had an unprecedented, positive impact on the daily lives of most Americans; however, the world of support for Americans with disabilities has remained largely untouched by the use of emerging technologies. That is poised to change.

Technology 101: The Planning walks students through the planning phase of the technology implementation process, including how to create a technology implementation plan; where to find technology solutions to match individual goals; how to handle privacy and consent; and how to obtain licensing, among other considerations.