Assistive Technology for Home Safety

held June 12, 2013

The aim of the three-part series titled SAFE@HOME is to provide the tools, environment, coordination and management to support the delivery of educational information to Virginia professional home care service providers.

Professional service providers include medical doctors, registered nurses, social workers, geriatric care managers, gerontologists, gerontology students, counselors, lawyers, financial advisors, insurance agents, ombudsman/patient advocates, as well as family caregivers.


The second webinar in the series will focus on assistive technology.

Assistive technology and home modifications have the potential to increase independence, safety, and quality of life for elders and individuals with disabilities. Many people may become trapped in their homes or locked out because of a disability that prevents them for being able to physically access their home.

Assistive technology such as environmental control units and home modifications can provide for safety and independence as well as “aging in place” for individuals with disabilities and the elderly.


Steve ThomasSteve Thomas, CAPS,Stephen Thomas Homes, Inc.

Stephen Thomas Homes builds and renovates homes that are designed to be livable for a lifetime, accessible and functional for everyone, aesthetically pleasing, and environmentally friendly:

Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS)

Certified Green Professional (CGP)

Steve is the recipient of the 2009 Home Builders Association of Virginia Builder of the Year.


Chris Cummins MedCare Systems

Chris Cummins

Mr. Cummins is currently the Executive Vice President with MedCare Systems. MedCare Systems sold and installed the first MedCottage (healthcare structure) to the public in January 2012. MedCare Systems changed their role from distributor to OEM in September 2012 and is now developing the next generation healthcare structures known as the iCottage.

Mr. Cummins was formally the Executive Vice President with The Haven Assisted Living Inc., and has licensed 14 facilities under Virginia Department of Social Services (22 VAC 40-71 & 22 VAC 40-72). He had also served on the Board of Directors for Virginia Assisted Living Association (VALA) and had direct involvement in HB 967 & SB 338 sponsored by Delegate Christopher Peace, which signed into law in 2010.

Mr. Cummins continues to advocate for elderly rights in the Commonwealth of Virginia.



E. Ayn Welleford E. Ayn Welleford, PhD, received her B.A. in Management/Psychology from Averett College, M.S. in Gerontology and Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University. She has taught extensively in the areas of Lifespan Development, and Adult Development and Aging, Geropsychology, and Aging & Human Values. As an educator, researcher, and previously as a practitioner she has worked with a broad spectrum of individuals across the caregiving and long term care continuum.

As Associate Professor and Chair of VCU’s Department of Gerontology, she currently works to “Improve Elder Care through Education” through her Teaching, Scholarship, and Community Engagement. Outside of the classroom, Dr. Welleford provides community education and serves on several boards and committees.

Dr. Welleford is former Chair of the Governor’s Commonwealth of Virginia Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Commission, as well as a recipient of the AGHE Distinguished Teacher Award. In 2011, Dr. Welleford was honored by the Alzheimer’s Association at their annual Recognition Reception for her statewide advocacy. Dr. Welleford is the author of numerous publications and presentations given at national, state and local conferences, community engagement and continuing education forums. In 2012, Dr. Welleford was appointed to the Advisory Board for VCU’s West Grace Village project. She is also the recipient of the 2012 Mary Creath Payne Leadership Award from Senior Connections, the Capital Area Agency on Aging.

The SAFE@HOME series is made possible through a grant from the Virginia Center on Aging’s Geriatric Training and Education Initiative.



MedCare Systems

Download the slides here.

Steve Thomas Presentation

Download the slides here.


Questions posted during the webinar are answered below by the two panelists:

Q: Awesome webinar! Excellent information! Thanks for sharing your knowledge, it matters. Where is the best place to locate these types of services and code info in another state? I’m in Indiana and I’m not sure if we’re as up to speed as VA, very interested in doing more research.

ST: Check with the National Association of Home Builders and look into the CAPS certified builders in your state

CC: All municipal IN state codes can be found at For the cottages you can contact MedCare Systems at 804-852-3561 804-852-3561.

Q: Why is it so difficult to get hotels/motels to adapt for handicapped rooms? I travel with my clients and very rarely do we find a real handcopaaed asscesible place to stay. And then Kingsmill has two condos in the uh “Handicapped Building”. A lot of tourism dollars lost that way.

ST: Many hotels/motels that were built before the ADA legislation may not have accessible rooms. You will need to look on the web beforehand to find out which ones are accessible

CC: In my opinion…it is an economic issue…many establishments do just the minimum to meet regulatory requirements…I believe this will change to accommodate the baby boomer crisis that is upon us…advocacy is the best way to affect change…

Q: Where do you have these tools displayed? Do you have demos for the mobile units?

CC: All units are currently at customer sites…we will have a technology demo by end of the 4th quarter…this data will be posted on our web site…

Q: After the occupant no longer needs the structure, is there a resale market for this product?

CC: Yes, we offer a repurchase program which is first right of refusal to buy the unit back and/or we will broker the sale.

Q: I did not see dementia as one of the disabilities which fall under the ACT? Would homeowners prevent persons with dementia living in one of these cottages? Early on in dementia persons often live alone with family looking in… I enjoyed the presentation! thank you!

CC: Dementia is an automatic qualifier for protection under the ACT…the cottages can be used for aging in place with family support…including dementia & Alzheimer’s…Also check out

Q: Is the tax credit available to the home owner or builder?

CC: IRS Publication 524 and IRS Publication 502 should be reviewed by a tax accountant on behalf of the aged, infirm, and disabled.

Q: Please clarify: there is no Zoning rule that prohibits the installation of an iCottage anywhere in the Commonwealth of Virginia? What about the size of the homeowners’s lot?

CC: There is zoning relief for the 300sq/ft units…they need to meet the property setbacks, however a “reasonable accommodation” can be requested if necessary…any size over 300 sq/ft will require to go through zoning…our company works with the zoning department on behalf of the family…We installed a unit on an R3 Cluster in the Alexander VA area…I can send some pics if you like…

Q: Is Alzheimer’s disease covered under the Act as a disability?

CC: Yes, it is an automatic qualifier…The act protects any loss of just one activity of daily living…