About the SeniorAdvisor.com 2014 In-Home Innovation Scholarship: We started the scholarship program to bring awareness of the unique benefits and challenges of in-home caregiving for seniors to younger generations. The questions posed by the scholarship encouraged our nation’s future caregivers to present solutions for improving home care in the United States. College-aged students were required to answer one of the three essay topics below and provide a short bio as part of their scholarship application. Read the winning essays here.
How can the healthcare industry use technology to improve in-home care for American seniors?
Essay response by Ariel Ross, University of Central Florida
On March 2, 1995, at 7:28pm, on my grandmother’s birthday, I entered the world. The fact that I was a girl was a HUGE deal in my family. There had not been a girl born on my dad’s side of the family in 60 years, so everyone assumed that the trend would continue. My grandmother was the only family member who predicted that I would be a girl. She told me she just knew. And the fact that I came on her birthday made her bold prediction even sweeter for her.
So I guess you can say my grandmother and I always shared a special connection. She always called me her “birthday present”, which made me feel special. In fact, over the first 18 years of my life, we often celebrated our birthdays together. She was a phenomenal cook, and would always prepare a birthday feast. Then after dinner we would all sit in the living room as grandma and I opened up our birthday gifts.
But my 18th birthday in 2013 was different. Yes, grandma was there. And we had the usual big feast, followed by the opening of gifts. However, my grandma was not her upbeat, chipper, talkative self. She was very sick. Eight months before she had been diagnosed with advanced esophageal cancer. She was struggling to open her gifts and had few words to say. She looked very tired. I guess the treatments had taken their toll. As I sat there watching her slowly open her gifts, I had a feeling that this would be the last birthday we celebrated together. Less than 5 weeks later, on April 8, 2013, my grandma quietly passed away in her sleep.
During my grandmother’s last 4 months of life, we relied heavily on home health care professionals to help us care for my grandmother. They did an awesome job, helping us to provide empathetic care to my grandmother. I witnessed a steady stream of caregivers come to the house….nurses, nurses aids, doctors, social workers, chaplains, etc. While they did a great job, it grew apparent to me that there was a glaring gap in the home care “menu of services”. My grandmother was a relatively large lady, even during her sickness. As a result, it was very difficult to lift her from the wheel chair to the bed, onto the portable toilet, into the shower, etc. While the nurses and home healthcare providers were wonderful, many times they simply did not have the strength to lift my grandmother. One very caring aid even strained her back trying to help my grandmother onto the toilet.
So I started thinking, what if there were a service called “LOVE-LIFTER.COM”. This service would utilize GPS technology much like the new Uber transportation service does. However, the service would not be offering car rides, but instead, human lift service. Each Love-Lifter would be tested for strength, to make sure that they were physically able to do the job. Second, they would be given personality tests, to assess their strengths along attributes like caring, nurturing, empathy, etc. Finally, each job candidate would have background checks to make sure there was no criminal history.
Like the Uber car ride service, Love-Lifters would be located all over the city. When your loved one needed a lift, they would check their Love-Lifter app on their smartphone and be able to instantly see the location of the nearest Love- Lifter. That person would receive the order and be dispatched to that address. They would arrive in a professional uniform, photo ID badge on their shirt, well-groomed, and with a caring, empathetic, demeanor. Once a comfort level had been established, and with the client’s permission, the Love-Lifter would do their job, in the most professional manner imaginable. I can imagine Love-Lifter franchises opening up all over the country, filling a huge unmet need in the home healthcare industry.
The technology is key. In order for the Love-Lifter service to be offered at an affordable price, Love-Lifters would have to be in the vicinity, to minimize time and gas expenditure. As with the Uber car service, a smartphone application would be used to arrange lifts between clients and lifters. Clients would use the app to request lifts and track their lifter’s vehicle location and estimated time to their home. This service would have been a blessing to my family during my grandmother’s final months of life.
Ariel is a junior at the University of Central Florida, studying communications. She hopes to one day manage a major apparel brand.