My research with my team at Imperial College Business School showed that many family members struggle with the burden of caring for dying patients at home and this is one of the core reasons why many patients are sent to hospital and are unable to die in their preferred place. This can drastically impact their quality of life towards the end and also leave a sense of guilt with the family who were unable to provide for them or care for them effectively. One of the reasons why family members find it so difficult to cope is because the NHS services available are often fragmented and it can be difficult to know what to do and when; when is the right time to call an ambulance, what should I expect to happen physically to this patient, how do I provide the patient with the right care, who do I call if X,Y or Z happens?
This idea, iCare, imagines a user-friendly and engaging platform (mobile app) that simplifies end of life care and makes it really simple. I envisage that it would include step-by-step tutorials of how to carry out certain tasks to look after their loved one. It would also have a comprehensive directory of all the voluntary, NHS and private services available (with a geo feature to help people find their 'local' one). Services listed could include night sitters/carers, social care and nurses etc.
The app would also have features such as daily reminders e.g. 'have you remembered to given Dad his medicines today?' and also positive messages to encourage the carer and remind them that they're doing a great job! For this, the app could have an animated character to deliver such messages.
The app could have a feature where the to-do lists and reminders and synched to other users' phones if there is more than one carer e.g. if a man and his wife are both looking after a grandparent, both husband and wife could update and edit their page e.g. add a new medication. The app could be very interactive and engaging to help users keep up with their tasks.
The app would also be useful if someone else needed to look after the patient at home one day because all the information needed such as daily tasks to carry out e..g 'change bedpan' etc. would be listed on the app and can be checked off.
The app could have detailed information on the person being cared for such as their food, drink, music and TV preferences and allergies so that anyone looking after the person will know how to best care for them and make them comfortable so all their wishes are adhered to.
It would also have an updated FAQ section where people can read and respond to. There could be a social element to the app where users could interact with other users and learn from their experiences.
For patient security reasons, the app would require a strong security system, such as pass codes and encryption.
Mobile health is on the rise and has huge potential to improve End of Life care in the 21st century!