A small firm in Virginia that focuses on revolutionizing the way that Americans care for their elderly family members recently presented its first prototype of a portable, high-tech room – called a MedCottage – that would provide temporary shelter for a sick family member in the family’s own backyard. The prototype is a 12-by-24-foot cottage filled with biometric technology, thereby allowing the family and even healthcare providers to monitor the relative’s condition. It contains air filtration systems, video links, devices for monitoring vital signs remotely and even devices that can sense if the relative falls.
Until now, this idea for the MedCottage has only existed on paper. Before they completed their first prototype, the Virginia General Assembly gave them a huge boost for production and mass marketing. The Assembly passed law HB1307 that overrides local zoning restrictions to allow families to implement such a building on their property with a doctor’s order. The AARP has said that local zoning restrictions are one of the biggest obstacles to making “accessory dwelling units” a viable solution when it comes to caring for elderly family members.
However, even though the state legislature almost unanimously passed the bill and Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell already signed it into law, nay-sayers have nicknamed the MedCottages as “granny pods” and believe that such structures could create conflicts between neighbors who do not find the residences to be pleasing to the eye. Some are also concerned that the MedCottages would open up more cases of neglect involving the elderly and disabled.
There is no word on if these dwellings will make it to Texas, but if they prove to be successful in Virginia, then perhaps other states – including Texas – will consider MedCottages as an alternative to nursing homes.
For more on the story, visit the Washington Post (July 20, 2010).