Inspired by Meaningful Connections

I find the pace and potential of technological innovations exhilarating. I’m inspired by the potential to create digital solutions that are not just viewed, read or heard but those that create meaningful connections that improve people’s offline lives.

When I graduate from my interactive media management program, my dream role is to work as a digital strategist developing interactive solutions, ideally for healthcare education or health 2.0 solutions.

For my senior project, I’m torn between  two ideas that make meaningful connections with the user.  Each idea steams from topics I’m passionate about: healthcare and social responsibility.

 Empowering Patients and Caregivers

Through various roles in my career, I’ve learned how technology can benefit healthcare — from increasing productivity to improving patient outcomes. I’m inspired by technology’s potential to changes lives plus thrilled to have played a tiny role in the process.

More recently, my healthcare work has included contracts with Ontario’s Community Care Access Centres, who provide homecare and other services to seniors.  This experience, combined with caring for my 90-year-old mother, showed me the challenges Canada’s senior citizens face. It also made me acutely aware of shortfalls in our current system.

These shortfalls make it difficult for family members or caregivers to navigate the system and access the best supports for their loved ones. Unfortunately, the average consumer is not well-versed in seniors’ diverse needs but for a growing number of players, it’s a booming business. This scenario makes its hard for caregivers to find clear, unbiased answers about the steady stream of services, medications and other ‘must have’ products sold to seniors.

Much of the information I’ve learned about resources and remedies for seniors’ conditions, comes from my work, research or word-of-mouth. Once uncovered, objective answers about what form to use for a walker rebate, trusted Personal Support Workers (PSWs) for emergency respite care or the ins and outs of sleep apnea, are gold. I’ve shared them with friends caring for aged relatives.

I wonder however how much time we could save others if we shared these insights with a broader network? After all, we use social networks for professional development, news, childcare or how-to ideas. Why not have a social network for caregivers to share insights about senior care options in a specific province or for specific conditions? With our aging population, I think this is a practical interactive solution to pursue.

Maple Syrup with Worldwide Value

I’m  also inspired by Canada’s benefits and our opportunities to make meaningful connections with other cultures. In 2012, I took a ‘voluntourism’ trip to Peru to help promote a socially responsible jewellery factory. I brought a maple syrup gift for my host Peruvian family. They placed it in a back cupboard, where it likely still sits unopened.

The challenge is people in many cultures don’t eat pancakes and don’t know what to do with maple syrup.  So ‘what if’ we could create a website with a database of authentic international recipes that use maple syrup?  Students, tourists or NGO workers could access and print a maple syrup recipe for their destination country (in English or the country’s language) and present it with their maple syrup gift. This solution would enable us to ‘act local but think global’ on a small-scale and make a positive first impression of Canada, as an inclusive country.

Both ideas have merit. The caregivers’ network idea is huge but links with my long-term interest to work on health 2.0 solutions. The second is truly Canadian and timely, given this summer’s Pan Am games.

Maybe I should just flip a coin or a pancake?  What would you choose?

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