This guest post was written by the lovely Adriana (Addy) McVicker. Addy has played a crucial role in the design and success of the Awake Labs Technology. We would not be here today without her and the team over at Community Living Windsor.
Hi, I am Addy and I work as a manager with Community Living Windsor. As our organization has been an early user of the Awake Labs technology, I have learned a great deal about effectively using this tool with the people we support. In this post, I want to share what I’ve learned that has helped our team implement it successfully. I’ve talked to a few organizations before they’ve started using Awake Labs so let me share with you the most common questions and my advice for success.
How does the technology help?
First off, we don’t use this technology to “fix” anyone. We use it to help supporters use the skills they already know and identify where they may be lacking the skills needed to provide more optimal support.
It helps us gather objective data, fine-tune support strategies, and intervene early. It helps us think bigger. I mean, you don’t know what you don’t know, and this is where good learning begins.
It provides an excellent tool to dive deeper and figure out what we’re missing as a team to best meet the needs of those we support. It’s also been a nice tool for our newer employees, along with our, more tech-savvy staff as they can reverse mentor our seasoned employees
This technology is helpful with consistency—consistency in a team’s approach as they provide support. For example, if there is a newly hired supporter who is working on their own just a few days later, which can happen, this has been a great tool. After newly familiarizing themselves with the person and the ways in how support should be offered, this tool can help build their confidence around if and when they need to step in and provide assistance. This can then help avoid unneeded escalations of anxiety and increases the supporter’s familiarity with the expressions of the person as they have a tool to help prompt them when they may need to offer support.
The notifications offer a simple prompt to check in. It helps bring a sense of clarity and confidence to not only newly hired employees in their role as a supporter, but to seasoned supporters who are new in the role within someone’s support circle
Where do you start?
My advice here is to think big, but start small. Consider piloting the technology with a handful of people depending on the size of your organization. A small pilot will help you identify some of the barriers you face as an organization and make a larger rollout smoother. We started with a group of 4 users and their direct support staff and managers of support - and then brought on more people and their teams as we gained confidence as an organization. Starting small made it easier to keep track of the pilot’s success and make adjustments as we went along.
Finally, to give you the best chance of success, I highly recommend having a point person who can engage directly with Awake Labs. It’s valuable to have a single person act as a communication channel for the people wearing the watch, direct support staff, supervisors, and other caregivers involved in the pilot. This point person can also be responsible for managing, analyzing, and sharing the data found through the Awake Labs dashboard tool with the support teams.
How do you cover the cost as an organization?
For us at CLW, we consider this a valuable tool that not only increases the quality of support offered to those we serve, but is also a proactive health and safety measure, and so we budget for it accordingly. It increases the quality of support and can help our employees stay safer at work, and that is indispensable for us.
What if I am having trouble with the technology or I need help?
Awake Labs has been and continues to be incredibly supportive. I always get asked the “how are they really?” question, and I have nothing but good things to say. There is an in-app support system, and you can reach out directly for help there. They are super responsive, pleasant, patient, and incredibly talented.
How do you introduce it to someone who doesn’t like to wear accessories?
We’ve done this successfully in phases. For example, start by supporting the person to possibly wear an elastic band around their wrist or a loosely tied piece of string, then support them to work their way up to wearing an inexpensive watch or bracelet, and then up to wearing the Awake Labs wearable. This process done well can take a month or more depending on the person’s needs and preferences.
The goal being for them to consent to wear the Awake Labs wearable. If we find that they are not enjoying it or are persistently saying no, we respect it. We also recognize that this process in itself can offer new learnings about what someone may need from their support. For example, if the person is really persistent about not having anything on their wrists, this could be a sign that there could be some tactile dysregulation that wasn’t previously identified leading us to source out additional support/resources to better meet their needs.
Awake Labs has also been flexible with subscriptions. If someone isn’t able to or doesn’t want to wear the watch, the license can be transferred to another person at your organization to try.