VALUE: a Virtual Assisted Living Umbrella for the Elderly, will combine broadband videoconferencing and Internet access, a supportive services information portal, and physiological home monitoring to provide assisted living services to frail elderly persons living independently in their home communities. The growing demand for assisted living services, an aging but increasingly independent population, and shortages of professional health care workers are converging to limit access to affordable assisted living services.
VALUE will utilize commercially available, low cost PC-based videoconferencing, Internet access, and physiological home monitoring devices to deliver in-home assisted living alternative. These individuals will be able retain the benefits of remaining at home, in familiar neighborhood surroundings, while having access to needed resources.
VALUE will include two clinical partners which serve both urban and rural Minnesota. Volunteers of America of Minnesota serves some of the poorest neighborhoods in Minneapolis; TriCounty Hospital serves three of the poorest rural counties in the state. Both partners are in areas with an increasing elderly population and limited numbers of affordable assisted living facilities. The partners will install central monitoring sites, train staff, recruit subjects, install VALUE units in subject homes, train subjects, and conduct virtual visits. The University of Minnesota will evaluate the program through a randomized trial that assesses patient health, functional status, and self-care behaviors; utilization of services; costs; and patients’ ability to remain in an independent living setting.