Allison Nikula, CareApp founder and chief executive officer, describes CareApp as being the result of a beautiful accident when her professional and personal lives came together.
Like 1.3 million other older Australians, Allison’s grandparents needed a little extra support to stay at home. Allison’s family wanted to be active contributors to their care, but communication was fragmented and visibility about their care and wellbeing was poor.
At the same time, Allison was leading a team of over 440 community care workers and saw that her personal experience was not unique. Knowing that precious moments were happening every day in aged care, but not being shared, Allison wondered whether technology could play a role in solving the problem as well as providing families with a much-needed personalised and reassuring window into the care and wellbeing of their loved ones.
In 2017, Allison consulted with prospective users with nothing more than some sketches on a piece of paper and some wireframe mock-ups. A proof of concept was created and tested, and in March 2018 a minimum viable product was developed and launched.
CareApp was born.
Today, CareApp is a nationally-awarded and internationally-recognised communication platform used across more than 200 facilities and community care providers throughout Australia.
“We were hopeful that the aged care community would embrace CareApp and view it as way to offer families peace of mind while keeping them connected to their loved ones, but the uptake has been more significant than I could have even dreamt of,” said Ms Nikula.
CareApp has been able to differentiate itself in the market by staying focussed on human connection in care.
“We know these moments are happening every day and that consistent connection is really important. CareApp not only provides a personalised and reassuring window into care, it also enables homes to capture and share the beautiful moments that matter most to families,” Ms Nikula says.
Kerri Harris, whose father is a resident at Villa Serena Aged Care has had her mind put at ease since CareApp was introduced at her father’s nursing home. She said “When he moved into the nursing home we imagined he might sit in his room on his own and not participate in any activities. But with CareApp, I can see that he is playing games with other residents, painting and doing other activities.”
There is no doubt that we will emerge from this current COVID-19 pandemic with the highest level of technology utilisation in aged care ever.
“The role of technology in aged care is not about replacing care,” Ms Nikula says, “it’s about enhancing connections, highlighting the power of belonging and magnifying the care that is being provided.” Easy to use, CareApp allows users to post notices, events and newsletters to keep families informed. It also allows one to instantly share images, send videos and just like Zoom or FaceTime, CareApp has live video chat, keeping everyone connected.
“The growth of the product/service has been exponential,” said Ms Nikula, “but more exciting is the fact that families who are placing their loved ones in care, are reaching out to us to find out which of their local aged care providers use CareApp.”
CareApp is accessible to care teams and family members on a 24/7 basis. It is compatible with iOS and Android operating systems, along with most web browsers.
Originally published in Aged Care Australia Magazine, Issue 2, September 2020, page 215.