Camera systems will be placed at Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas locations in Atwood, Hays, Hill City, Hoxie, Norton, Stockton and Russell with the help of community foundation grants and a $21,000 grant from The Beach Family Foundation, Derby.

The purpose of the cameras will be to observe behaviors of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities as needed, which will be used to help improve the quality of care and safety, and develop personalized health plans.

“Many persons with I/DD have challenges with verbal communication and so they often communicate through their behaviors,” said DSNWK President Jerry Michaud. “For example, aggressive behaviors could mean the individual is in pain.”

These camera systems that will be placed in community spaces of residential homes will provide an opportunity for staff to review recordings to better understand the complex behaviors an individual may be exhibiting, and to collaboratively work with the person's team to create a personalized plan to address their needs.

“Disability programs must continue to change and evolve in order to sustain quality services, but a paramount principle to this, is the protection of individual privacy,” said Michaud. “The use of camera systems in residential homes is strictly defined in DSNWK policies. The seriousness of guarding and respecting the privacy and confidentiality rights of each individual is core to our services.”

At DSNWK, these camera systems will also help monitor facilities to provide improved security and safety of the facility, people coming and going, and the company vehicles. DSNWK provides services out of 26 facilities and residential homes agency-wide.

Community foundations that have helped to support this project are Sheridan County Community Foundation, Rawlins County Community Foundation, and Graham County Community Foundation. Roughly $4,500 is still needed to fully fund the project.