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Care a Van

A self-driving, welcome wagon delivering ennobling problem-solving guides and goodies for caregivers to loved ones with dementia.

Photo of M A Greenstein
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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?

Families are the front lines problem-solvers for caring in dementia. We are faced with sudden and ongoing medical, legal and financial decisions as we take on daily project managing of the health and living situation of our loved ones. Our path is uncertain and alienating, for some, a seemingly endless journey of selfless action. We wish to rebrand dementia caretaking as a "noble journey." Care A Van products elevate and simplify the language, image, art and science of dementia caregiving.

We started with the provocation:  How might we flip the image of caretaking?

CARE A VAN is our prototype response to the question.

It is a self-driving, welcome wagon with drone attachments and a Death Clown leading the way. Think Rose Parade Floats, Bread and Puppet Theatre, Farmer's Market mobile display arriving at your doorstep.  Filled with energy boosters for walking the noble caretaker's path, Care-A-Van brings local healthy life and dementia care, vendor swag to a caretaker's doorstep.  Swag includes a burner cell phone to operate the drone for monthly self and dementia care deliveries. It also includes a flashdrive and handbook filled with ways to access new financial models and senior community housing suggestions in your immediate community.  Each van gives away free copies of the up to date manual on memory care: “Dementia for Dummies, Get it Before You Forget It.”

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

Alpha testing might start in 3 D C communities: 1) Club Memory Cohorts of Sibley Memorial Hospital eg. Ward 7 and 8 Senior Wellness Center 2) a local African American Church 3) a local farmer's market. The first experiment requires team building to organize and distribute a swag bag filled with culturally sensitive, healthy lifestyle goodies and a "need to know" Noble Path journey map to caretaking for dementia.

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

1. Designers to concept design Care A Van brand and aesthetic hierarchies. 2. Carpenters and mobile design grad students to prototype the welcome wagon. 3. An Information Architect to system design the drone and self-driving mechanics of the cart. 4. Memory care gerontologists to generate source material for the Journey Map. 5. Local business rep to grow relations with local vendors 6. A community representative from each region or culture of focus. 7. A design / user researcher

How long has your idea existed?

  • 0-3 months

This idea emerged from

  • An OpenIDEO Outpost or Chapter

Tell us about your work experience:

Our team included a Community Dementia Program Manager at Sibley Hospital, a health and fitness coach, a UX designer, a gerontologist and a design researcher/world builder. We shared collective and personal experience in memory care from long distance to handling day to day responsibilities.

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Join the conversation:

Photo of Mariah Burton Nelson

I like the "noble journey" concept. Noble is defined as "having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles and ideals." The word caregiver focuses on what one provides for others. However, it could be valuable for caregivers to be branded as people who are engaged in an experience (and a journey) that demonstrates and elicits fine personal qualities and high moral principles. It would elevate the role into something about the self, not just about others.

I like the welcome wagon concept. When you begin a caregiving journey, you often feel alone and at sea. A welcome wagon conveys the message: You are not alone, and the journey you're taking is filled with other resourceful, inclusive people.

I also like the humor inherent in this idea. Caregivers, a notoriously exhausted tribe, need to have fun, and these playful deliveries would brighten the day of any noble adventurer.

Photo of M A Greenstein

Mariah thanks so much for your positive feedback to our team post! The idea of "Noble" speaks to the cross-cultural value of the Mensch or the Warrior -- someone who rises up to do what is truthful and just, with their heart open and engaged to model behavior for others to follow.

Photo of Mariah Burton Nelson

Hi M.A., Wow - your definition is much better than the dictionary's. Inspiring!