Check-In is smartwatch application for people living with dementia and their caregivers.
TEAM | Meg Nidever, Xingsuo Liu
ROLE | Product Design + Research
TOOLS | Sketch, InVision
METHODS | directed storytelling, competitive analysis, scenarios.
“Caregiving takes a village. Here, you will design an application that supports communication between caregivers.”
My team was asked to design an application that helped caregivers communicate with one another to coordinate care. However, after conducting lean research to identify key challenges for our stakeholders, we found that communication wasn't the problem. Instead, we found that there was a rich opportunity to support caregivees in independent living through routine management.
We first brainstormed everything we thought we knew about caregiving and dementia. This allowed us to identify holes in our knowledge and assumptions that would need to be verified.
We spoke to people who had been (or currently were) caregivers for people with dementia, asking them to tell us their caregiving story.
We spoke to medical professionals who specialized in geriatrics and degenerative brain diseases.
We researched current assistive technologies on the market, and conducted a literature review of experimental assistant technologies.
scenarios and storyboards
We came up with many scenarios of use and then storyboarded the most important scenarios.
We shared our storyboards and scenarios with our original participants (both caregivers and medical professionals) and solicited feedback.
Our three stakeholders
Inez lives on her own and is beginning to show symptoms of dementia.
Rosario is Inez's daughter. She wants to care for her mother, but she lives across town and works long hours, which makes it difficult.
Hector is a childhood friend of Rosario's. He lives in the same building as Inez and occasionally helps with Inez's care.
Caregivers do not have a hard time communicating with one another. They are satisfied with the current technologies (phone calls, texts) and we didn’t find any breakdowns around communication.
Caregivers worry (a lot). Caregivers know how easily things can go off the rails. Because of that, they worry constantly about the person they are caring for and, if they don’t live nearby (like Rosario), they feel guilty about not being there.
Emergency response wearables are widely-used. Several of the caregivers we spoke to had either used one of these devices with the person they cared for or had considered using one.
Very small changes can lead to disastrous outcomes. Small things that wouldn’t have much impact on a healthy person can radically change the health of an older person with dementia. What if we could catch these things before they led to accidents or hospitalizations?
So they develop elaborate check-in procedures. One woman divided the day into three check-in calls, which she split with her brother. Several caregivers relied on neighbors to notices when things went wrong and to notify them. How could we help caregivers know what was going on without violating the privacy of the caregivee?
It should bundle capabilities to provide value—location tracking, heartrate and activities, note-taking, and emergency response.
It needs to have a hook to compel adoption. Here, we zeroed in on emergency response services (like Life Alert, Guardian Alert, etc.) as a widely-used service that we could provide better and cheaper with a mobile app. We looked at a Consumer Reports price and service comparison for the leading brands on the market, and found them shockingly expensive and ineffective. Most cost $50-150/month and only work inside the home. Here, we could provide consumers with a superior and cheaper option that would drive adoption.
3 types of assistance
Check-In is a mobile and smartwatch application that assists elders with managing their daily routines, helping them live independently for longer. It combines routine prompts, emergency notifications for caregivers, and daily status trackers so caregivers can check in if they're feeling worried. By replacing the need for a stand-alone emergency-response device (like Life Alert, etc.), Check-In bundles value, providing more and costing less than traditional caregiving solutions.
some final screens
When we began thinking about our personas and the ecosystem around them, we zeroed in on a few major hunches, (some of which later turned out to be incorrect). These were our assumptions going into the project that needed to be validated or discarded.
- Most caregivers are the children of the elders being cared for. Occasionally friends like Hector get involved.
- Right now, most products for caregiving are physical products and home adaptations.
- Because of the aging baby boomer population, caregiving will become a larger issue in the coming decades.
- The current healthcare and at-home caregiving landscape is highly fragmented.
- Caregiving can mean physical tasks like cooking and cleaning, or it can mean higher-level tasks like managing finances.
Directed Storytelling and interviews
We interviewed two healthcare providers that specialized in geriatrics and dementia, and conducted directed storytelling with four caregivers.
We reviewed assistive technologies that are currently on the market. We also spoke to people about what assistants they currently use, like pill organizers and emergency response devices.
Based on our research, we developed 20 scenarios of use, which we then catgorised into three different types of assistance.
We then created storyboards for our three most promising scenarios and speed-dated them with caregivers and healthcare providers. From these sessions, we grew more confidant that newly-diagnosed dementia patients would be open to trying a new assistive technology.