MemoryWell offers a digital life storytelling platform, designed to integrate biographical information into care settings through easy-to-access tools for paid caregivers.
Currently, only a fraction of home care, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities gather life histories, and the solutions they create or purchase are mostly hand-written questionnaires. MemoryWell integrates biographical information into care settings in a new way—offering a digital life storytelling platform that can easily be accessed and updated to promote person-centered care, which is increasingly the gold standard of care.
The platform also features a companion tool designed to promote family engagement. MemoryWell invites family members and friends to add to a loved one's life story by building out a timeline with favorite music, movies, videos, photos and memories from different eras. Paid care staff are also invited to post photos and updates about daily life that are then shared with family members.
Never has this been more important as the COVID-19 epidemic restricts families’ abilities to visit their loved ones. Not only can family members no longer tell staff about their loved ones when they visit, but that social interaction from family members is now dramatically reduced with the restriction of non-essential visitors. That's why MemoryWell has begun offering its timelines for families to use for free during this period of social distancing. Families separated from a loved one in long-term care or at home can start a timeline and invite relatives and paid caregivers to contribute photos and memories.
MemoryWell sends out weekly "MemoryTime" engagement prompts, such as "Where were you during the moon landing?" These timelines create opportunities for family members to interview their loved ones and learn more about their lives. For the older adults, it's a chance to connect and look back often on happier times.
We are also offering discounts on our professionally told life stories. In our work with hundreds of older adults and their families, we have found a short story has a huge impact. Our stories are relatively brief—800 words or less—so as to be read quickly by front-line staff. The key to MemoryWell’s consistent, high quality is a network of more than 700 professional freelance writers who are trained in MemoryWell’s interview techniques and story format. The interviews are conducted by phone or video chat, and customers routinely report that they enjoy the opportunity to engage in life review with a skilled, compassionate interviewer. Stories are written, edited and shared with families and paid caregivers on a password-protected platform within a week. Our stories become tools for improving care as well as keepsakes that families can pass down for generations.
An additional benefit is that our stories are keyword coded, and we are able to gather information that is useful to understanding social determinants of health. Health care organizations are starting to use social determinants such as housing, marital status or financial security, to understand health trends and to provide context for personalized solutions when there is a medical problem. But it’s often difficult to collect such information. Major healthcare organizations including Kaiser Permanente and UnitedHealth Group are considering MemoryWell as a solution for collecting biographical information that could be drawn upon as part of their health records. In the future we think this information could also be helpful in understanding how coronavirus impacts older adults differently, based on social determinants, and how treatments could also be customized.