Thanks to Lydia Howland for providing a great frame for 2.0 concept updates - I’ve blatantly copied your headlines :)
“Staying in the Loop” was inspired by 4 key insights:
Many people receiving care in their homes aren’t kept in the loop about their daily schedule and some feel paralyzed in anticipation.
Not knowing when you will receive help means you can’t plan your day around it.
Carers often have changing schedules and for many elderly, seeing new faces every day makes them feel unsafe. For carers, it sometimes means just knowing the essentials of the care they are to provide, but not the small personal preferences.
Carers often communicate with a central system, but it doesn’t extend to the receivers of care who are left uninformed and voiceless.
What is it?
‘Staying in the loop’ is an app concept which completes the communication cycle between carers, the care organisers and the receivers of care. For the receivers of care, it’s a simple app - which allows them to see the name and the face of who will be visiting them, what they can expect to get help with, and when it is likely to happen. Simple icons allows them to monitor the progress of their care each day. This will remove a large chunk of that precious uncertainty, leaving them to plan their day around the scheduled care visits.
In the other end, the carers are able to access their schedule, routes and find information about the person they’re about to visit and what’s required by them. They’re also able to add notes, so let’s say “Anna” doesn’t like being rushed to shower in the morning, or maybe just prefers her tea super weak - the next caretakers will know of these small details in addition to the more important ones, making Anna’s experience of care feel more personal, and she won’t have to explain her needs every day.
Possible features, builds and variations
Fatma Korbut pointed out, that if one puts a check on an icon when a particular activity is done, it will become a diary over time containing using information for relatives, caregivers, doctors etc. It’s definitely worth thinking about the data the app will collect and how it can be used i.e to find patterns. Thanks to Mike Horrigan for suggesting that there should be an easy way for vitals to be entered such as blood pressure levels etc.
The app should be flexible enough to be tailored to different users need. Someone with i.e severe dementia, might want a very static app which just shows the person who is coming next, whilst others might benefit from full functions and more user control. Thanks, Paul Reader, for suggesting a modular approach to monitoring this type of care-giving, with add-ons for both professional and personal needs.
To prototype and test the app, Lena Dickinson suggested that it might be worth partnering with a small group of care receivers in a retirement community. This would highlight any interesting differences to be wary of for a larger roll out, or it could show that both environments function similarily. It would also be good to troubleshoot by testing it with a group of carers/care receivers with varying degrees of electronic literacy
Paul Reader and Nathan Meton have raised some good points around appropriate modes of communication. Is it really an app that’s needed to solve this three-way communication problem. Could text messages do this? Phone calls?
Kali Kuwada has suggested a feature where there’s also an option for the elderly to leave a verbal or written not in response to the care they’re getting. This feedback option might empower some elderly to feel heard, and could be a part of the caretakers employment review. Another addition, could be to include a brief bio beneath the photo of the caregiver in the app - helping those with a variety of carers and/or those with cognitive issues.
Thanks also, for suggesting that there might be an emergency option, (other than 911) where the caregiver might want to contact another service provider, familiy member or doctor. We’ve had discussions as well around the sensitive nature of a lot of this information, without coming to any conclusion. How might we ensure that confidential information isn’t shared uncessarily, whilst maintaining efficient, personalised communication and service? ]
To bridge the technology gap, Chelsea Dakers suggested that a training period during the initial home-care visits could be scheduled - with each function of the app is introduced and taught over time, building user confidence and retention.
Back in my first year at university, I tempted as a carer for the Danish Social services. They’ve got an extensive system ‘Hjemmeplejen’ in which thousands of people, mostly eldery or people with disabilities receive care in their homes each day.This can be with things like showering, cleaning, sorting out medication or sometimes just a quick chat. Whilst I found the work rewarding in many ways, I also left work each day feeling frustrated by the system. I didn’t like the uncertainty of not knowing whom I’d be visiting before the beginning of each day, but that was a minor issue compared to the elderly - who weren’t told at all. I felt it was unfair treatment of people who’ve been used to managing their own time their entire life, and this sudden dependency and lack of information was unsettling - for some, others didn’t mind.
At the moment, the carers in ‘Hjemmeplejen” receive a list of whom they are to visit each day either printed or on a PDA (think chunky old smartphone). The PDA system is costly, slow and complicated to use and not suited for small home care providers or communities. It would be great if we could create an open source communication app which builds on existing services such as google calendar, CSIRO (Thank you Lee and Luciano Oviedo) and as Nick Dawson suggest some CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool coupled with a home-health system.
It would also be useful to be able to track delays, in case one is visit prolonged due to unforeseen circumstances. In that case, it would be great if the schedule is automatically pushed back.