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Care Better

Care Better is a platform and app connecting caregivers of loved ones with Dementia to each other & a Virtual Expert Marketplace on demand.

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Who is your idea designed for and how does it better support family caregivers as they care for a loved one with dementia?

Care Better is designed for the family/friend caregiver. Our culture has changed in our loved ones often live far away, there are more non-traditional caregivers and caregivers lunge from crisis to crisis, looking for support. Googling only goes so far. Our research showed caregivers want 2 things. 1. To connect with someone like them who understands 2. Find a non medical Expert who can answer a question or provide a service when needed. Through a simple app, caregivers can find both.

Losing a loved one, slowly, to a disease like dementia, is hard enough. Finding the support a caregiver needs, shouldn't be.

Introducing Care Better - Created to connect family and friends caring for loved ones with Alzheimer's and Dementia. Through a simple app, we can text, one to one, when we need support from a fellow caregiver who understands. Created to spread kindness through technology. Care Better includes a Virtual Dementia Marketplace (VDM) platform that vets non-medical Experts needed to make decisions through all phases of caregiving. Dietitians, Care Managers, Financial Advisors, Benefit Specialists, Therapists, Elder Care Attorneys, Home Care finders, etc.  Experts and professionals can:

     * Upload their service

     * Schedule appointments 

     * Receive payment for their service. 

     * Additionally, Experts can bring value to the community/platform through their podcasts, webinars and offerings.

Care Better is here in memory of my Mom, Helen, whom I cared for long distance and then in CA for many years before she died from dementia. It was hard. She never had a diagnosis because she would never cooperate with an assessment. Through research, I believe she had Lewy Body Dementia. But I'll never know for sure. With so many touches in the medical world; doctors, social workers, occupational and physical therapists, rehab staff and administrators, none ever recommended the non medical services I needed. Each stage brought a different challenge. Googling only took me so far.

Stage I
Karen is a caregiver for her Mom. In the early stages, she looks to family for support but finds resistance from her brother and denial from her Mom. At night, exhausted from work, her own family and caregiving, she pushes Care Better app icon on her phone and finds Derek in the same boat. They share experiences and Karen is less stressed. He recommends a Dementia Educator on the app. Karen reaches out and learns the early signs of the disease and management tools. Now educated, Karen has more patience for her Mom when she visits the next day to clean. Derrick checks in and asks how her visit went. She's comforted someone is paying attention.  Connections can change many decisions we make and help us "care better". No one wants to make mistakes. 
Karen suggests to Derrick to connect with Care Better's Dementia Educator as well. He gets immediate answers to his most pressing concerns about his father's safety.

Planning Ahead 
     * Karen learns Derricks father was a vet. She suggests he call Care Better's Benefits Specialist for support. Derrick is relieved there may be VA benefits to help pay for his own caregiving giving him more financial security.
     * Karen is also worried about money and her Mother is not a vet. She uses the Care Better app to find a financial advisor to devise a plan for the future. The Advisor suggests Karen speak with an Elder Attorney. She makes an appointment through the app and  does not go into work late for the first time in 3 weeks. Care Better saves her valuable time she could now spend with her own family in the morning.

Stage II
Karen's brother is still denying their Mom's condition. Karen reaches out with the Care Better app to an Expert Elder Mediator who suggests a family meeting to determine next steps. At the meeting, Karen obtains acknowledgement of her predicament and discusses sharing duties with her brother. Her brother sees for himself, understands the burden and agrees to share care. Their Mom feels respected and included in the decision making, alleviating conflict and stress. All three are relieved of tension and communicate more effectively. Karen does not have to leave work or take time off for all appointments and attends more soccer games. It's not perfect, but better. Derrick reminds Karen to schedule her own physical with her doctor. They laugh that he should schedule a check up too.
* Karen also discovers tools on Care Better to keep her Mom at home longer and safely. She arranges a trustworthy Elder ride service for her Mom, eliminating the argument of taking away her car and independence.
* Derrick suggests a great Doctor for Karen's Mom that he used for his Dad. Karen asks the Mediator to help her convince her brother to take on the medical appointments. She feels supported as she now has a team to rely on. Her brother uses the recommended doctor and her Mom receives a diagnosis of Alzheimer's.
* Karen reaches back out to her favorite Dementia Educator on Care Better one night after her Mom shows the first signs of sundowning. She doesn't waste time googling as she now has professional support at her fingertips. The Care Better advisor gives her specific tools to cope and Karen is able to sleep well that same night without anxiety about what tomorrow will bring.
* Karen witnesses her mothers needs escalating and recognizes she cannot keep up. She finds a Home Care Specialist on the Care Better app and who helps her find reliable, trained, paid helping hands to give her more time with her family. She suggests to her Care Better friend Derrick to use the Specialist as well and find help for he and his Dad. Derrick is grateful for the support.
* The weight of the whole juggle is taking its toll on Karen. While her team of professionals and friends on the Care Better app has made a difference, she decides to find counseling for herself. The Care Better app offers counselors for Karen to process the grief of slowing losing her mother and the weight of caregiving. Her family benefits from her more peaceful outlook. She is on time for work and productive. Derrick checks on her and notices the difference. He commits to therapy himself and finds one on the Care Better marketplace.
* She moves through the process of completing all of her legal work with the attorney she found on the Care Better marketplace.  
Stage III
* Mom's health is deteriorating yet she wants to stay home. Karen finds an Adult Day Program locally for her Mom. Her brother reluctantly agrees its needed and shares the cost. Karen finds specific podcasts on the Care Better app about technology to assist her Mom in her own home which she listens to as she commutes back to work. She discusses ideas with her brother and husband and gets feedback from Derrick on his experiences using tech for home monitoring. Karen and her family makes decisions on specific tools and installs the devices, giving her peace of mind.
* Through her Elder attorney she's worked with from the Care Better marketplace, Karen legally assumes all financial responsibility for her Mom.
* Karen's Mom attacks her and they are both shaken. Karen reaches out to a Dementia Behavior specialist on the marketplace for suggestions. She relies on her therapist for coping strategies. She reaches out to other caregivers on the app for support. She assigns her paid caregivers more responsibilities for bathing, cleaning, etc. She understands they need to start planning for the next move to around the clock care. Derrick has already made this decision and they share experiences. Through the Care Better marketplace, she finds immediate advice on how to choose an assisted living facility and a list of local facilities. The family begins visiting the facilities for evaluation together.

Stage IV
Karen's Mom resents the paid aid. Karen learns about what Geriatric Care Managers can do for her on Care Better. She had never heard of this specialty. She learns of detachment strategies from her therapist as well as tips on behavior management from the Care Manager and next steps on preparing for her Mom's move. Her brother agrees to manage the sale of the house.
* Cleaning out the family home and moving is stressful and a tremendous amount of work. Karen finds a Senior Move Manager to help with this monumental task.
* Karen contacts a Benefits Specialist on Care Better and is disappointed to learn her Mom doesn't qualify for Medicare immediately. She learns the ins and outs of Medicare and begins to plan their financing. The Care Manager also finds Karen local respite care so she has time alone with her family to reconnect. Her therapist and Derrick help her with the guilt of letting go.
* Because of the team of support she has found through Care Better, Karen has not had to quit her job or move to Part Time. She is grateful they can continue to afford the added help now that she can keep her job. She feels surrounded by friends, family and professionals that she can rely on. While she feels too guilty to leave her Mom and take a vacation, the small weekends of respite rejuvenate her enough to keep going.
* She has created a financial plan to understand what her Mom can afford and when Medicaid will kick in. She is knowledgable of how the facility works with her POA and Medical Directive from her Care Manager. With her mother in a facility, Karen has new needs of managing the facility staff and staying on top of changes. Derrick and the community of caregivers recommend educational tools on hospice care, self care and supportive resources on Care Better to help Karen through the final stages of her Mom's life. Recommendations of Hospice Care help Karen understand how her Mom can benefit from varying degrees of support of hospice.

Karen now has a team of family, connections and Experts who have helped her prepare, retain her job, keep her relationship with her Mom through dementia education and save money.

Affordability - Out of pocket expenses average $11k per year for caregivers. Experts deserve to be paid for their services. By creating this Virtual Dementia Marketplace (DVM) platform, we anticipate lowering the cost of services sold by 10% for the caregiver.

Scalability - We plan to add Spanish Language to Care Better and also scale globally to address the dementia challenge.

We are excited to use technology, to make it simple, to press a small button on our phones to find the support we need. A community for just us, dementia caregivers.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

We have built a small MVP of our product and have started a closed beta test.

What skills, input, or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

Growing a community of dementia caregivers is our first effort. How to identify caregivers based on age, disease type, stage and relationship to loved one is challenging and requires IDEO's expertise in crowd sourcing and collaboration. Vetting and scaling our DVM Experts through their association memberships and utilizing social media should be tackled in tandem.

How long has your idea existed?

  • Over 1 year

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual

Tell us about your work experience:

Susan has twenty years of corporate, start up, nonprofit healthcare and sales management experience. An entrepreneur and lover of nature, she lives the soul belief in "creating the thing you wish existed" and using technology to help caregivers do the best job they can for someone they love.
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Team (12)

Susan's profile
Claire's profile
Claire Hamilton

Role added on team:

"Claire has been an invaluable asset as research assistant and social media intern."

Kath 's profile

Role added on team:

"Kath has over 30 years of health care experience as a RN, CNM and home care and geriatric specialist. Her input and research contributed to the idea of Care Better."

Nancy's profile
Nancy Daniels

Role added on team:

"Nancy is an experienced UX designer and engagement specialist. She has added feedback in simplicity, development and user feedback."

Judith's profile

Role added on team:

"Judith is a technical wizard and helped fine tune the Care Better offering. As with all of our team member, Judith also experienced caregiving for her parents, long distance to South Africa. We thought we had it hard caring across the US!!"

Sara's profile
Sara Poole

Role added on team:

"Sara has had countless years caring for an aging parent and on the front lines as a caregiver, researcher and user feedback in the dementia space."

robert's profile
Meghan's profile
Ellen's profile
Phil 's profile
Cody's profile
Liz's profile
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Attachments (3)

Caregiving special assignmentf 3 final.pdf

Beginning research into Care Better support and first iteration of product wth screen shots.

Care Better - Screen Layouts 20160117.docx

Second iteration of screen shots and app content with user journeys.

Care Better IDEO.pptx

Simple slide deck of Care Better's messaging community, Virtual Dementia Marketplace and team.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Nicole

The challenge of caring for someone with Dementia is very isolating. Even the caregiver's closest friends and family may be helpless in supporting them. Care Better is the network of support I would look for myself and share with the caregivers in my life. Any unpaid caregiver who has stepped into the role by necessity is stepping into unknown territory. Having a simple platform available can transform the caregiving experience for them. The ability to connect with someone who understands what you are going through is a basic human need. Empathy is at the heart of Care Better. Founder Susan Hamilton has created a solution that considers how technology can change the way we care, not with expensive gadgets or high tech gear, but with the support available to caregivers. This is a solution that anyone thrust into the unfortunate world of caring for someone they love with Dementia can turn to for support. Care Better takes away many barriers to finding the resources needed to provide good care. The app is a hub for education, connections, trusted services, and real world advice. I'm positive that many caregivers have become experts in caregiving throughout their own experiences, now Care Better is an opportunity for new caregivers to connect with someone who understands and who has gone through the journey. This resource alone would seem invaluable to me if I was new to caregiving. Having had the opportunity to know Susan and see her continue to grow Care Better, I feel confident recommending Care Better to the caregivers I know. I can't wait for this product to be available to a global market and start transforming the way we care.

Photo of Susan Hamilton

Thank you Nicole. I appreciate your kind words and support of Care Better, allowing us to pitch at your FemTech events and providing valuable feedback to our platform from investors. We also obtained a few new users by our connection with FemTech. As 75% of caregivers are women, we touch every age and race in our roles as women. Thank you again for the encouragement and support.

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