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Reducing the burden on caregivers by providing a transportation solution catered to the specific needs of individuals with dementia.

Photo of Kinjal, Scott, Tyler Gumb

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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?

Transportation is essential to leading an independent life and driving is one of the first skills that people with dementia lose. We propose an on-demand transportation service tailored to the needs of people with dementia. This will reduce the burden on caregivers to provide transportation. Additionally, it will extend a sense of independence for people in early stages of the disease.


The number of people living with dementia is increasing. By 2050 the number is expected to triple. The disease is debilitating for those suffering from it and places a massive emotional and financial strain on caregivers.

Stages of the Disease

There is a progressive loss of function as dementia develops. 

Early Stage: decreased ability to remember, keep appointments, travel alone, or drive

Moderate Stage: loss of the ability to perform basic daily tasks such as grooming or selecting clothes, poor judgment and impulsivity can also be symptoms

Final Stage: almost all tasks of daily living require assistance

As moderate and severe dementia often requires full time, institutional care, our strategy focuses on extending independence of those with pre and early stage dementia.


In our interviews transportation emerged as a significant burden for caregivers who are caring for someone in the early stages of the disease. It was very straining to always take time out from their schedule to drive their loved ones with dementia for various errands or to their appointments.


We propose a car service with unique features, tailored to the needs of people with dementia. 

Some of the critical features would include:

Tracking: Caregivers have direct access to the car's coordinates and can track the ride via GPS.

Door to Door: It is critical for impaired older people to be provided with door to door service.

Dash Camera: For the caregivers peace of mind, all cars are equipped with a webcam and caregivers can access a live videofeed to see the state of their loved one at any time during the ride. 

Video Conferencing: Additionally they have the option to videoconference with their loved ones during the ride. We imagine this will be valuable in a case where their loved one starts experiencing distress during the ride.

Online Training from the Dementia Care Providers of America: It is important that drivers have training to prepare them for potential communication difficulties.

Safety Locks: Drivers equip safety locks in the back during the duration of the entire trip.

We’ve filmed the short video below with actors to simulate what the experience would be like.

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

We would like to conduct a trial run of our service providing transportation for the father of one of the caregivers we interviewed during research. This will allow us to test the different features of the service and how effectively our solution provides value.

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

We are unsure if our approach should be around designing a whole new service or if we should attempt to provide an add-on or extension to an existing service like Uber or Lyft.

A few other things we are interested in getting feedback and discussing:
-Legal Issues and Liability concerns
-Value of specific features

How long has your idea existed?

  • 4 months - 1 year

This idea emerged from

  • A student collaboration

Tell us about your work experience:

Kinjal Shah, Scott Cowell and Tyler Gumb are a team of three graduate students currently studying Interaction Design at SVA. They have backgrounds in architecture, UX design and Alzheimer's research.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Brittany

Hi Kinjal, Scott, Tyler Gumb  - welcome to Refinement!

We're eager to see updates to your idea and learn more. Don't forget there are a few additional questions now that you're in the Refinement Phase. You can see them by clicking "Edit Contribution" and scrolling to the questions that don't yet have answers from you. We also encourage you to add a user journey map and start thinking about a small experiment you could test in the next few weeks. Perhaps testing with both caregivers and care-recipients? Gathering feedback? Please reach out with questions! or feel free to email me at

Photo of Bettina

Hi Kinjal, Scott and Tyler!
Congrats on the idea moving into refinement. I am one of the co organizers of the NYC OpenIDEO Chapter.
NY Chapter -

To support ideas from the local area we plan to host a Refinement Workshop for this challenge in the coming weeks, and would like to invite you to participate! It would be an opportunity to share your idea and any prototypes, and to ask questions from the community etc. Please reach out to learn more if interested.

cc: my NYC Chapter Co Organizers Anne-Laure Fayard  Karine Sarkissian 

Photo of Bettina

Hi all! Here are the details about the Refinement Pop Up Event.

Photo of Kate

Hi Kinjal and team,

It is great to have you in the challenge.

What could incentivize drivers to become a part of this over other options e.g. alternative rides with uber/lyft?

If you had one month to work on your project, what would you do?

Photo of Kinjal, Scott, Tyler

Hi Kate,

Great question! We think the fees for the service would have to be somewhat higher than a standard Uber or Lyft ride and so the drivers would be at least partially incentivized by a higher rate of pay. Despite having higher fees than standard app based car services, we think it can hit a lower price point using this model than currently available non emergency medical transportation for people with dementia.

With one month we would want to do interviews with more caregivers. In part to understand how transportation is part of their challenge and in part to get a broader range of feedback on what their loved one would need specifically in a transportation service, as well as what they would need to trust a service. Following that we would like to prototype some of these features and see how successfully the service performs.

Photo of Tonia

Hi! I really like this idea and have been thinking about something similar to offer to our members. Did you know that Uber is starting something new that is similar? Not that I don't think there isn't room for more transportation apps - specially ones for serving the population specific to dementia and or disabilities in general. Besides training, what type of screening will you do? As the saying goes - if you met one person with dementia, you've met one person with dementia. The disease affects everyone differently so it would be important to make sure both the driver, the person with dementia, and if there is a person 'riding along'.

Photo of Kinjal, Scott, Tyler

Hi Tonia,

Thanks for that link. We'll definitely try to learn from the approach Uber has been taking in this space.

It seems to us like Uber is targeting people with mobility, vision or hearing assistance needs. It seems to us their service wouldn't extend to people with unique assistance needs due to cognitive impairment, which is who we hope to extend service to.

Great point, maybe there could be some kind of ability for caregivers using the service to write in unique, specific considerations the driver should take for their loved one. We're hoping to do some more research and get a better sense of the full range of unique needs for people with dementia and see if something like this would be necessary.

Photo of Silver

Love this idea! What an amazing thing to provide to those living with dementia. A way to still maintain their independence and a way for the family to have that peace of mind. A win - win. Love the idea of providing the training necessary for the drivers!

Photo of Kinjal, Scott, Tyler

Thanks Silver!

Photo of Sally

I am the guardian of my adult brother who has Huntington's Disease and dementia is a component of this. He lives two hours away from me with professional caregivers. When they bring him to doctor appointments and meet me, they have to bring two people because he grabbed the steering wheel in the past. He also likes to undo his seatbelt, and they have to stop frequently and buckle him back in. To have a different kind of lock would likely be considered restraints and they would need a court order in order to do this. He is afraid of the dark and sometimes falls asleep in the car on the way back. Yesterday it was light when he left the doctor and feel asleep, waking up later and it was dark. He woke startled and was trying to get out of the moving vehicle. I know that one of your concerns are the legal and liability issues and I think it is important to consider your service possibly first as a senior friendly ride service and move towards early stage. I also would be concerned that video conferencing or camera during the drive could be disorienting during the drive as well but could be used if there are issues. Although it wouldn't be cost effective, an extra service could be a second person along in addition to the driver. I am not sure it is practical to expect the driver to go door to door and I think people would pay to have a travel companion sit with the person in the back. Actually, by doing this you could almost use uber or another format for the actual transportation and instead concentrate on skilled companions to accompany the person with dementia. I hope this is helpful.

Photo of Kinjal, Scott, Tyler

Thanks for the feedback and sharing your brother's experience with transportation Sally.

Great concerns and points. I think you're right that the service as we have imagined it here would really only be viable for people in the early stages of the disease.

Good point about the challenges of providing door to door service. We really like your idea to potentially have a travel companion added onto to existing transportation services.

Photo of ramaa

Transportation is definitely a crucial element in supporting caregivers. It would also be helpful to have such a service available to caregivers for taking their recipient to appointments, especially as the condition progresses. Would love to see if such a service can be integrated into everyday service providers such as Uber or Lyft..making our society more empathetic and inclusive.

Photo of Kinjal, Scott, Tyler

That's a great point Ramaa. We were debating that a little, whether this should be a stand alone service or features that could be added to an existing service like Uber or Lyft to make it more accommodating.

Photo of Joy

I agree that transportation is one of the biggest challenges in caregiving, especially in rural areas. Envoy America has been providing a door-to-door transportation service with extra features, like going grocery shopping with the elder. It's not dementia-specific, however.

Photo of Kinjal, Scott, Tyler

Thanks Joy! This is a great reference for us to look into.