JCP&L And Advancing Opportunities Create “Smart” Group Home In NJ

Officials mark the completion of the special Smart Group Home. (Photo by Kimberly Bosco)

JACKSON – Thanks to a donation, a group home will be the first of its kind equipped with smart technology in the state.

Jersey Central Power and Light donated $10,000 to Advancing Opportunities to help individuals with disabilities become more independent in a safe and nurturing environment.

Advancing Opportunities is a non-profit organization and “one of the leading disability service providers in the state of New Jersey,” according to their website. With this donation from JCP&L, the two organizations worked together to create a home that will make living life easier, and more independent, for individuals with autism.

“It is a crossover from the consumer to the home,” said Jack Mudge, CEO of Advancing Opportunities. Mudge said that the smart home transforms the way that staff has been helping those with disabilities become more independent by taking it from an individual consumer level, to a much larger scale.

Photo by Kimberly Bosco

The group home is equipped with push-buttons that operate the doors from both inside and out and has voice activation in the form of a Google Home that helps individuals turn the television or the lights on or off from wherever they are. Accented with carpet on the lower half of the walls, the home protects itself from damage in the event that a wheelchair or other device bumps into it. The inside of the house has no floor moldings so that the floor is perfectly flat; this helps people avoid tripping, falling, or not being able to ride over the moldings in a wheelchair. The back and front of the house are outfitted with wheelchair ramps that travel directly to the doors. The bathroom is also enhanced by a new kind of shower system that allows a staff member to set the temperature of the water, so one need only push a button to take a shower at the desired temperature. For extra safety, there are supportive handicap bars installed in the bathroom as well as an overhead lift installed throughout the hallways and bedrooms to help the residents get around without worry.

Sensors in every door, window, and bed allow staff members to know when someone gets up or where they are going within the house. This feature is what helps Advancing Opportunities’ trained staff stay aware of the status of the disabled individuals in the house. As Mudge noted, it takes a highly trained staff to keep watch and take care of the individuals in the group home before they adapt to being more independent.

The goal of the group home is to provide individuals with the opportunity to become more independent in a safe place, while also letting them control their environment, according to Mudge.

JCP&L helped host the open-house and vice president of external affairs, John Anderson, provided a few opening remarks before Advancing Opportunities personnel gave a short tour of the home.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Advancing Opportunities…It is very inspiring,” said Anderson. Anderson also noted that what was so special about the event was the feeling that Advancing Opportunities provides of turning a house into a home.

Included in the $10,000 donation from JCP&L were holiday lights and decorations for the house, to provide a cheerful holiday atmosphere for those about to reside in this new home.

“JCP&L did a beautiful job lighting the house,” said Mudge.

Anderson mentioned that this would not be JCP&L’s last effort to work with Advancing Opportunities.

“This is an ongoing collaborative effort,” said Anderson.

JCP&L plans to collaborate with Advancing Opportunities on more group home projects in the future and Advancing Opportunities is going to be completing another smart group home in Lincoln Park, come next week.

Part of the significance of this first ever smart group home is to be used as a test model for future endeavors, according to Mudge.