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Trillium Partnering with PCC on ‘Smart Home’

WINTERVILLE—Trillium Health Resources announced a partnership with Pitt Community College (PCC) to build a high-tech, energy-efficient “Smart Home”—a demonstration home that will exhibit new technologies that can enable people with disabilities to live more independently.

The Smart Home will be constructed on PCC’s campus and open to the public, giving students in numerous curricula hands-on experience with the latest technology while allowing individuals and families to see those advancements in action. PCC officials will determine the exact location on campus at a later date.

“Technology can greatly benefit many individuals, allowing them the freedom and accessibility to live as independently as possible,” said Trillium Vice President of Clinical Operations Cindy Ehlers. “The Trillium-PCC Smart Home Project will be outfitted with the latest technology for people with disabilities, families, caregivers and advocates to see first-hand in a home-like setting how technology can improve quality of life.

“Trillium is thrilled to partner with PCC to bring this vision to life, and to show our community real innovation at work.”

The demonstration home will exhibit a variety of technology designed to increase independence and safety for people with disabilities, including:

These technologies benefit especially those with intellectual/developmental disabilities, mental health issues and substance use disorders; individuals with physical disabilities; survivors of traumatic brain injury; individuals with visual impairment; individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing; disabled veterans; and the aging-in-place population.

“Each Smart Home is set up to meet the special needs of the people who live in them,” said PCC Building Construction Technology Department Chair Will Pack, whose students will help build the home. “… We have the ability to build houses, the students who need the practice of building, and we have the technology to build them.”

The Smart Home will serve as a learning laboratory for students, and a place for allied health professionals to evaluate various technology applications for their consumers. PCC Architectural Technology students are currently assisting with the design phase of the sustainable, energy-efficient structure, which will comply entirely with Americans with Disabilities Act.

PCC Architectural Technology Department Chair Len Van Staalduinen said many aspects must be taken into consideration in determining the home’s design, including positioning for solar power, sustainable building materials, “green” certifications and versatility. Ultimately, he said, the goal is to design a home so that the person living in it does not have to move elsewhere as they age.

The Trillium-PCC Smart Home Project will also help train local contractors on various accessibility modifications to make existing homes more physically accessible.

The Smart Home Project is funded through Trillium’s reinvestment funds. By managing Medicaid funding and services locally, Trillium has been able to reinvest savings in innovative programs and services that make a difference in local communities.

Trillium Health Resources is a leading managed care organization for individuals with substance use, mental illness and intellectual/developmental disabilities in 24 eastern North Carolina counties. Its mission is to transform the lives of people in need by providing them with ready access to quality care. For more information, visit www.TrilliumHealthResources.org.