During an OpenIDEO event, we worked directly with one of our team members who is currently a caregiver to identify some key needs. We created the following HMW:
How might we support caregivers to feel less isolated as they go through an identity transformation?
The two insights are:
- Being isolated by friends and society. A caregiver's experiences and struggles are a taboo topic that causes discomfort in social situations. Friends don't know how to act/react. In addition to this, their accomplishments as a caregiver are not valued professionally or in general by society. How do we normalise dementia so that caregivers don't feel alone without support?
- A new identity to discover and accept. The experience of caregiving varies, but for some, it can cause a radically fast change in their own identity. Their selfless service to their loved one can cause them to no longer recognize themselves. While they are deeply affected by caregiving, their identity isn't consumed by it, rather, it is transformed by it.
There's a balance at play. The caregiver's life has now been deeply changed, but it is still normal to them because it's their new normal. So how do we ensure this identity transformation is a positive experience that does not isolate them from their friends and support network?
A 'Survival Kit' is mailed to the caregiver once a month with new items each time that align with the different stages of a caregiver's journey. This box can be purchased by the caregiver themselves or by friends who want to give support but don't know how.
'The New Normal - A Survival Kit For Caregiving Heroes' has four goals and components to it:
- Practical - provide practical support that is relevant to the caregiver's journey. A caregiver's needs in their 1st year are different compared to the 10th year.
- Identity - provide tools that help a caregiver navigate their new life and new identity.
- Community - provide a network that can support and relate to the caregiver's experiences.
- Hilarious - provide an outlet to vent frustrations, see things in a new light, and to normalise dementia among friends/society.
A high level of detail will be taken to the design of the entire brand and products inside the box. In order to build a community of caregivers that attracts new caregivers to join, people need to have visual affinity. Tongue-in-cheek humor will also be used to build a light-hearted atmosphere that can be a form of emotional support that all caregivers need.
At the heart of this idea is the desire to bring delight to the caregiver's life at a time of great need.
Example of Items:
1 - Welcome Box:
- Practical - Advance Directives
- Identity - Self-help Book
- Community - Free account on the The New Normal Community Forum
- Hilarious - Signal Flare (Use Only When In Dire Need of Laughter)
2 - Getting Started Box
- Practical - Caregiving Finance Basics
- Identity - Identity Workbook
- Community - Meetup Recommendations
- Hilarious - 'Today I Am...' Stickers
3 - I'm Getting The Hang of This Box
- Practical - Caregiving Legal Basics
- Identity - List of Recommended Therapists
- Community - Caregiver Buddy System
- Hilarious - Caregiving Jokebook
The New Normal Website
Just like how 'Humans of New York' spotlights the amazing stories of people in that space, 'The New Normal' website seeks to do the same thing for caregivers in the space. When a caregiver receives a Survival Kit, they are immediately added to The New Normal network.
It recognizes that each caregiver has a superpower that needs to be spotlighted and shared in this community. Some benefits to this are:
- Creating community - putting faces to the amazing (but silent) work done by exceptional caregivers.
- Sharing hacks - each caregiver has their own tricks that help provide better care, this is a sharing network to proliferate these tricks.
- Facilitating connection - a repository for resources, meetups, forums, etc.
- Building identity - there are caregivers that are not empowered by this identity, this is a way to shine a positive light in this space.
In each Survival Kit box will be a monthly spotlighted Caregiving Hero. This is a printed out story of what is shared online on The New Normal platform because we understand not all caregivers are into the internet.