SimplyHome’s Technology Makes Assisted Living Even Better

Jason Ray, center, works with his parents, Allen and Drue Ray, at the family business in Asheville. / Photo by Sandra Barnes

Jason Ray enjoys talking about his family’s business and the service it offers to disabled people who want to live independently in their homes.

As Chief Development Officer for SimplyHome, a nationwide company, Ray spends much time traveling and making presentations to prospective clients.

“I do a lot of business development and help manage the product,” he says.

A few months ago he was in Alaska where he was invited to speak to a group of people about the in-home technology that his father, Allen Ray, developed with other engineers. Among those who came to hear what Ray had to say were a man with cerebral palsy and a disabled couple.

“A lot of people who want to remain in place at their homes can’t afford full-time, live-in assistance,” Ray says. “For someone with a disability, technology can make things possible.”

The monitoring and sensory devices that SimplyHome offers are designed to help clients with tasks such as opening doors and also alert caregivers to a need for assistance.

“The system knows the need,” Ray explained. “We have the technology connected to our system and a care team that can be alerted.”

A person who is interested in the service undergoes an assessment to determine goals and the kind of support he needs.

“The individual can make decisions,” Ray said. “We can provide support and respond to a client’s choice.”

As an example, Ray described a man in his early 90s with a history of falls who wanted to stay in his home, rather than go to an assisted living facility. He had a medic alert button, but didn’t always have it with him, Ray said. The SimplyHome system that was installed for this client monitors his activity according to the room where he is. If he remains in a given place, such as the bathroom, for a long period of time, the caregiver service checks on him for a possible problem.

Allen Ray founded SimplyHome as a result of operating assisted living and nursing home facilities in the 1980s. In the early 2000s, the care model began shifting from bricks and mortar to alternatives such as home care, son Ray said.

“That gave us a unique opportunity,” he said. “We came up with the idea of using technology.”

“We thought if smart home technology can be used to do things like send alarms to fire and police departments, or turn lights on and off remotely, why not create outcomes using technology to support individuals’ independence,” Allen Ray remarked.

However, there was one hitch in the plan: Ray discovered that the technology for the SimplyHome service he wanted to provide didn’t exist.

“We realized we needed to create it ourselves,” Ray said.

A metallurgical engineer by training, Allen Ray began working with other engineers to develop the technology he wanted to offer clients.

“We built the first system in my dad’s basement,” Ray said.

On the company website Allen Ray explains how he came up with the name, SimplyHome:

“While visiting a resident at one of our nursing homes, I asked her how she liked living in her new assisted living community. She said, ‘Everything here is as good as I could possibly expect, but frankly, I’d rather simply be at home.’”

The Ray family has lived in the Asheville are since 1991. After graduating from college, Jason Ray worked for Biltmore Farms for a while, overseeing and creating databases for the company. In 2008, he joined his parents at SimplyHome.