News Column

Grant Would Put Tablet Computers In Seniors' Hands

July 9, 2014

Dan Nephin

Staff Writer

Two Lancaster County senior centers would get 50 electronic tablets and another organization would expand a missing-person locator program with grants the county commissioners will vote on today.

Under the first program, the county would give Community Action Program of Lancaster County up to $53,722 to buy 50 tablets and hire certified instructors to teach seniors how to use them.

The pilot program would be tried at the Columbia and Lancaster Neighborhood senior centers.

The centers serve low-income people who would likely be unable to afford tablets, according to Jacqueline Burch, executive director of the county's office of aging.

Seniors could then use the tablets to email family and friends and talk with them using Skype, Burch said Tuesday during the commissioners' agenda meeting.

"It would certainly enable them to bridge the digital divide," she said.

And, she hopes, having the tablets at the centers would draw new people to the centers.

About 25 to 30 people go to the Lancaster center daily and about 20 to 25 people go to the Columbia center daily.

The other grant would provide $25,000 to continue to expand Project Lifesaver in the county.

The nonprofit program provides technology and training that can help find people who might wander, such as those with Alzheimer's or autism.

Clients are outfitted with a transmitter worn on the wrist or ankle. It emits a tracking signal that emergency workers can use to find the person if he or she goes missing.

The program is a project of the Pilot Club of Lancaster, which promotes awareness and prevention of brain-related disorders and works to improve the lives of affected people.

The club helped bring the program to the county a couple of years ago.

Currently, West Hempfield, Columbia, Susquehanna Regional, Elizabethtown, Northwest Regional, Mount Joy, Manheim and West Lampeter police departments participate in the program.

So far, there are 12 clients in the county, West Hempfield police Chief Mark Pugliese said.

The participating departments have been fortunate that they've not had any clients wander, he said.

According to Project Lifesaver's website, it's had more than 2,800 searches over the last 15 years with no serious injuries or fatalities. Average recovery time is 30 minutes.

The funding for both programs is left over from the county's roughly $817,000 state lottery allocation in last year's fiscal budget, according to Burch.

The bulk of the money was used to help remove some 350 people from the county's waiting lists for senior services such as personal care, home delivered meals, adult day care or medical equipment and supplies.

In other business, the commissioners:

nHeard details of a 58-acre farm in Penn Township that's seeking preservation. A vote is planned at today's meeting.

nWill hold a final public hearing today on the county's plan to fund human services with state funding.

For more stories covering the world of technology, please see HispanicBusiness' Tech Channel

Source: Intelligencer Journal (Lancaster, PA)

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