Curi™ - Mobile Tools for Family Caregivers

The Problem: Family Caregiving

There are 43.5 million family caregivers in the United States. They may care for elderly parents, disabled friends, or children with special needs. Many are responsible for the care of multiple people with complex health issues. Most are still working. Often they face health problems of their own.

Family caregiving is not easy. It is hard to stay motivated and easy to make mistakes. It can be complex and the consequences of a mistake can be serious. Sharing responsibility can ease the load, but this is difficult to accomplish without tools which make coordination simpler and sharing your experience with other caregivers easier.

Our Solution: Curi™

Curi Logo
Introducing Curi™

Curi™ simplifies family caregiving and gives caregivers peace of mind. Curi™ helps caregivers:

  • refocus caregiving into clear concrete goals for each family member
  • hand care off between caregivers effortlessly, so the right person is notified to do the right thing at the right time
  • back each other up when things don’t or can’t happen
  • know everyone’s status at a glance, up-to-the-minute, even when you are miles away
  • pull together their collective caregiving know-how into a shared multimedia library
  • keep everyone encouraged and engaged with their care
  • foster and maintain independence in the young and the old while maintaining discreet caregiver supervision

Curi splash screen
Mobile Social Family Caregiving

Features of Curi™

Mobile Design

Because Curi™ is intended to be used by multiple members of a family, who might not use the same mobile devices, we are using cross-platform development in creating it. It will be available for iOS and Android devices.

Curi™ is designed around mobile devices and takes account of the possibility that connectivity may sometimes be limited. While some tools in Curi™ depend on internet connectivity many functions of Curi™ will work users’ devices without it, and they will continue to receive alerts.

Planning & Prompting

Using intuitive wizards, Curi™ helps you understand the complex dimensions of family caregiving--the who, what, when, and how, but also the essential why that keeps you motivated when caregiving gets difficult. Simple templates help you customize Curi™ to meet the unique and specific needs of you and your family. Using these, you create alerts for the actions you need to take in your caregiving These alerts arrive when you need them, and can include instructions, pictures, or even video to remind you what needs to be done.

Social Caregiving

Social caregiving tools in Curi™ bring you, your family and your friends together as a team for mutual support and encouragement.

  • Caregiver Handoff allows you to share caregiving responsibilities with family and friends at a touch, and know that they have the information they need to do the job.
  • Minders are people you bring into the caregiving loop to backstop you. They are notified when something goes wrong so they can follow up with you personally before a minor problem becomes a serious issue.
  • Personal Caregiving Library a place you can collect information relevant to the care you give. You can use it to help you remember the details, or easily share information with new or infrequent caregivers for your loved ones.

Privacy & Security

At Semafores we understand that our users will be concerned with their privacy and the security of their personal data. We will never share any user data without their permission, and we will use industry standard measures to protect their personal data from theft or tampering. Data will be encrypted during transmission and personal identifiers will always be encrypted in our system.


Articles

Woman looking through binoculars.
Looking beyond.

When designing the testing for an app like Curi™ it is important to look beyond functional testing and performance, and understand how the user will interact with the app, especially under stress. Everything about Curi™ is focused on giving the user useful actionable information so that they can execute tasks on time. What I wanted to learn, however, was what would users do if they were in a position where, even though they had the information they needed, they simply could not perform a task at a given moment. Were we going to find unintended consequences if we put people in ‘no win’ situations?

Curi spash screen.
Curi™ by Semafores.
Continued from Thank You Curi™

Amy cautiously eyes the room trying to give the impression of looking for anyone about to ask a question. In reality she doesn’t want to be caught with her guard down looking at her phone. Barely glancing down at her lap she opens her Curi™ app, glides to a screen with hers and Bill’s picture across the top, and taps on Bill’s image. Silently in the background an exchange is taking place. Curi™ allows, among other things, for an adult to manage the caregiving for one or more children. To indicate which adult is currently in charge a “C” in a red circle had been attached to Amy’s picture. By tapping the picture of Bill she was asking Curi™ to notify him that she wanted him to become the caregiver for Sarah and handle the next task.

A man and woman talking over breakfast.
Start the day right.

The day begins at 5:30am in the Adams household. Bill rises at the sound of the alarm clock and today heads straight for the shower. His schedule is fairly packed and he is anxious to get started. His wife, Amy, follows a quarter of an hour later. They sit down together at the kitchen table and go over their schedules together over a breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast and coffee. Bill takes out his iphone and Amy her Android. Bill chuckles quietly to himself at how this makes them a ‘mixed’ couple.

A woman and a  man running.
Goals help you go the distance.

Recently a new park with a beautiful running track opened up not far from my home. Knowing my sedentary habits and need for regular exercise, my wife suggested that we start running together on the track. Though I hadn’t gone running for more than twenty years I agreed because I know l that I need to start moving while I still can. We plan to run three days a week, as long as the weather permits. On weekdays the only time that fits both of our schedules is 4:30 in the morning, so I know it will be a challenge to stay motivated.

How do I plan to keep myself on the track? By setting goals that help me track my progress and identify success.

Girl with magaphone.
Giving a Boost!

At Semafores we know that caring for your family shouldn’t be a lonely job. It’s easier and far less stressful when you don’t try to go it alone. With Curi™ we give you the tools you need to get help from your family and friends when you need it, no matter what kind of help you need.

Sometimes what you need is someone who can take over for a while. Curi™ lets you hand-off caregiving to another caregiver in your Curi™ family with ease. Other times you need someone to look over your shoulder and check your work. That’s what our Minder tool is for.

Sometimes you don’t need someone to take over for you or to catch your mistakes, but just need a little encouragement. This is what Boosts are about. Boosts are messages from your friends you can use to keep yourself motivated. They can be text or multi-media, just like any alert in Curi™. You can read them as they come in, or use them as alerts to give yourself the little burst of motivation that keeps you focused on your caregiving or wellness goals.

A collection of mobile devices.
Killer App?

""So?" you ask. "How do you make a killer app?" Well, as our CEO and Mother of inspiration, Julie, would tell you it starts with you tossing and turning in bed kicking yourself while reliving how your son’s medications got botched. It is anger, frustration and fear roiling together. Thankfully things turned out alright. It could have been much worse.

Pain pill or vitamin? This is a question straight out of the reality TV show Shark Tank where ‘contestants’ pitch their businesses to real life investors to convince them to invest in their business. The question is really, “Is this an app people need now?” No. Yesterday, because the pain is killing them. Or is this more like a vitamin? It’s good for you and it may help you stay healthy and whatnot but if you didn’t buy it you might not miss it. You might not even be able to prove it’s helping. Make no mistake. When a Shark asks this question they almost always want to hear only one answer—Pain pill. No one beats a path to your door for a better vitamin.

Dog herding sheep.
Sometimes caregivers need to be herded.

A major source of stress for family carers is the fear that they might make a mistake. Curi™, Semafores’ social mobile family caregiving application, was born of that fear. When our founder, Julie Tittler, made a mistake with her son’s medication which nearly landed him in the hospital, she searched for a mobile tool to keep that from happening again. Finding nothing she thought would work for her, she started creating her own.

Kids in the lab.
Testing making a difference.

How do you make a world class product? And what exactly does that even mean? It takes a lot of different skills, and not everyone will agree on the methods or the outcomes. I think in every case you start with a clearly defined problem and then think beyond all the current solutions. With Curi™ it was the desire to reach a higher level of personal and family wellness by allowing people to more easily work together, and to support and encourage each other.

The question isn’t; “How do you do this?” The question really is; “How do you do this intuitively, simply, easily, seamlessly and affordably?” If you can do all this then, perhaps, you can arrive at an elegant solution.

A family's hands.
The family team.

Semafore’s Curi™ is the social mobile platform for family caregiving, but what does this mean? We see it as a tool for improving the quality of the care the family provides to its members. So, what is quality of care, and how do we help you improve it?

Improving quality of care (and improving cost effectiveness) has been the goal of healthcare reform since the 1990s. The Institute of Medicine defined quality of care as:

The degree to which health services for individuals and populations increase the likelihood of desired outcomes and are consistent with current professional knowledge. (Medicare: a Strategy For Quality Assurance, 1994)

This definition still guides efforts to improve healthcare and is behind many different initiatives aimed at improving access to healthcare, eliminating errors, reducing unnecessary procedures, and improving communication between doctors and other healthcare providers.

A definition of quality for family care would be similar but more limited in scope, perhaps:

The degree to which family care improves the wellness of family members and the family as a whole (the desired outcome); and the degree to which care plans created in consultation with doctors and other medical professionals are followed.

Padlock over data.
Locking data up.

Almost daily another article appears extolling the virtues of mobile apps to improve your health. But what are the risks?

Feet running on a treadmill.
Using the Treadmill

Why do I think that Curi™ will be a game changer and not just another stuff it in your pocket and forget it app? In my house we are not immune to new year’s resolutions that fall by the wayside. In my bedroom lies a treadmill that was going to keep me fit rain or shine. I can’t see it but I know it’s there under a mound of boxes. In the garage, strapped to the side of the pantry shelves, is a ski machine. It was the predecessor to the treadmill. I still have the directions, somewhere, and someday I will put it on ebay. My family even has a name for all these gadgets though I have no idea if it is original. We call them Monuments to Good Intentions. You probably have some in your house, too.