At GoodLife, we’re always searching for ways to offer more independent living options for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD). We are continually looking for new and innovative ways to improve their lifestyles.
Beth McCoach, Chief Operations Officer of iLink Technologies, said, “The iLink team is continually striving to offer support and encourage independence for the residents we work with. We offer that support through a variety of ways, including supporting Direct Support Professionals as they work in the homes, as well as virtually coaching residents to live a more independent lifestyle in their own homes if they are able to do so.”
iLink is an infrastructure GoodLife utilizes in our Neighborhood Networks, which helps increase the independence, safety, and decision-making skills of our residents. The technology, which we started using in 1999, includes cameras and sensors installed in the homes that are connected to iLink Assist software.
“We started out with night monitoring,” Beth said. “iLink’s technology and software have evolved over time. Through our Research and Development team’s efforts, as well as some trial and error, we have developed really incredible technology.”
Our iCoaches work daytime and overnight shifts to offer monitoring and support. There is always someone at our central site monitoring location to answer questions virtually or help our residents when they need it. iCoaches work 12-hour shifts three or four days of the week, and then they have three or four days off in a row. Homes are remotely supported 24-hours a day to make sure everyone is kept safe.
“The iCoaches know they are making a difference in our residents’ lives, which makes their job meaningful,” Beth said.
Through iLink, iCoaches can help increase residents’ independence by offering virtual cooking support by turning an oven on or off, and/or walking the resident through the cooking process step-by-step. They can also deliver medication reminders, do fire and safety drills, and help residents check in or out when they are leaving their apartments or going to work. Support varies depending on what the needs are and what would best help the residents.
Prepping for expansion
During this exciting time of growth, iLink is preparing additional space for expansion. We have 2 goals: 1. To distribute our iLink Assist software, paired with the hardware, and teach other agencies how to use iLink to support their own agency; 2. To offer virtual night support to other agencies. In order to meet the needs of other agencies with overnight support, iLink will need to expand our iCoach team. iLink often hires people from within GoodLife, mainly direct support professionals. iLink benefits from employing iCoaches with experience in the homes; it allows them to draw on those experiences when offering virtual support. We look for people who have technology skills, but on-the-job training is offered to make sure all of our iCoaches have all the necessary skills they need to help our residents.
Beth works with iLink internally and externally, which means she visits other agencies that are interested in using the technology in their facilities. She helps them figure out how their program could benefit from iLink.
“It’s very exciting to make the leap to sharing iLink with other agencies,” Beth said. “We are still in the early stages, but have a lot of interest from a variety of agencies and states.
She said one of the challenges is that many states don’t allow camera monitoring. States often view themselves as technology-forward, but they don’t understand how utilizing cameras, in a non-intrusive way, can increase someone’s independence (it’s important to note that cameras are not installed in private areas such as bedrooms or bathrooms). iLink’s system allows for a resident to have support when they want or need it. For example, if a person lives on their own and needs night support, their home can be configured to alert iLink when sensors detect there is movement in the middle of the night in a common area. iLink can call in to check on the person when the motion alert is received, but can also view their cameras to get a visual on the person to make sure they are safe. If the resident needs in-person assistance, iLink calls for support.
Opportunities on the horizon
When GoodLife’s iLink expansion starts progressing, there will be many opportunities for growth. We will need to hire more people for our hourly positions. “Our iCoaches do it all,” Beth said. “We need people who are outgoing, upbeat, social, excited, and will bring positivity to the job.” As iLink continues to grow, those who started out as iCoaches will have the opportunity to advance to other positions within the company, like IT, administrative staff, lead iCoaches, and iLink management.
Beth’s GoodLife journey
Beth started her GoodLife journey 27 years ago, right out of college, when she started as a direct support professional. She has held many roles within the organization, including home management, behavior consultant, director of consultation and evaluation, as well as guardian for a resident, and grant writer. She also served as the Director of iLink Research & Development, before assuming her new role in December.
“I’m pretty ingrained in this agency,” Beth said. “I actually attended the Johnson County Montessori school, which GoodLife now owns and operates. My roots run pretty deep, and I’ve seen so much change and evolve over the years. Technology has really made a positive change in the way we provide services.”
When she’s not figuring out new ways to bring more technology into the mix, she loves to be on the go. She likes to hike, walk, read, spend time outside, spend time with friends, and values her time with her family.
Would you like to put your technology skills to use to help better the lives of others? We are always looking for compassionate people to join the GoodLife team. Check out our Careers page for more information.