The imbedded You Tube video below tells one of many stories of how Senior Care Share will make caregiving easier for the members of its social network.
As a niche social network, interactivity will be the core DNA within Senior Care Share — the social network for Canadian caregivers. One of the site’s key goals is to convert visitors into members of the network, who return to the site at least once a month and actively participate by reading, posting or responding to others’ posts in the various modules. To guide the conversation and discourage detractor/troll behaviour, new members will be directed to review the rules of engagement. These rules will be easily accessible and enforced by the site administer, as required.
Plans are in place to develop the following two core modules within the network, with the intent to scale up to more as the site evolves:
In the Q&A Discussion Forum, members can interact by posting practical questions about how to best care for their senior family member/loved one. These questions can cover daily care, healthcare or even seniors’ recreation/entertainment needs, such as: Does the Ontario government cover the cost of a walker? or Which Ontario entertainment venues provide hearing devices for seniors? Subsequently, members can interact by answering each other’s questions and posting relevant links/images.
To steer the narrative and encourage dialogue (or even visits to the forum), the network administrator will monitor public affairs/ongoing news and regularly post timely, as well as mass-appeal, questions. The administrator will also seek and enter informed answers to many of the posted questions to grow the site’s appeal, particularly in its early days.
Text prompts and compelling icons/buttons will also urge members to interact by clicking a button to ‘upvote’ answers or enter comments about others’ answers. The upvoting functionality will tactfully help streamline content toward practical useful information versus bursts of emotion.
Members visiting the Ranking Seniors’ Accommodation module will interact by ranking seniors’ accommodations, according to various criteria, and providing comments, based on their own experience. Members will also be encouraged to click a button to highlight helpful reviews . To direct engagement and give members ideas, major seniors’ facilities will be pre-entered in the module and text will prompt members to evaluate them. Members will also be able to add facilities that aren’t pre-listed.
To further entice members to engage and build the site’s preliminary content, Senior Care Share’s staff will recruit and nurture site advocates. These advocates will be encouraged and rewarded (through ‘social’ credibility and other incentives) to enter accommodation reviews related to their experience or participate in the Q&A module.
As appropriate, the site will also include feature articles and interactive tools that offer ‘evergreen’ information for caregivers. One tool might be a wizard to help caregivers identify the correct battery for their loved one’s hearing aid — as getting the right match is imperative but this information is not prevalent. Other tools/wizards can be developed based on Q&As posted on the site.
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?