November 30, 2016 | The Hospice Insider
A technology company’s plan to add crowdfunding to its menu of services will help thousands of people pay a dying loved one’s medical bills and other unforeseen expenses related to their care.
CareFlash’s partnership with CrowdRise to build the new feature, which members of its Careopolises started using this week, is just one of the ways web-based businesses are helping caregivers connect with and empower networks of friends and family members that stretch across the globe.
“Our tools enable family members to reach out to loved ones,” CareFlash CEO Jay Drayer said in a recent interview with The Hospice Insider. “If you can enable loved ones to be engaged (in the caregiving process) the likelihood of a better outcome is dramatically better.”
Empowering loved ones
Founded in 2006, Drayer’s company operates on a strong belief people will do everything they possibly can to help a loved one who needs care because they are dying, recovering from an injury, or struggling with another mental or physical condition.
But these attempts to help can sometimes cause the person’s caregivers anxiety – particularly if they must explain what’s happening to their loved one again and again or adjust an already busy schedule to meet someone else’s needs – that only adds to the stress associated with their duties.
Drayer’s company works to reduce this anxiety by creating a system of Careopolis websites that serve as a virtual meeting place where caregivers can share information about their loved one’s condition and what they might need.
Each of these websites comes with a blog where the caregiver can post regular updates about their situation, computer generated animations that explain medical terms and conditions so the caregiver doesn’t have to, and an on-line calendar where they can post the times they need help the most.
“A lot of this comes from friends and family members,” said Drayer, who is constantly thinking of new tools, like the crowdfunding service, he wants to add to his company’s Careopolis websites. “They’re really the source of the inspiration.”
Sharing the stories
Careopolis websites also feature a storytelling function where people can record stories about their experiences with the dying person that are stored in digital archive the person’s family members can share with others and cherish for years to come.
Drayer said these archives are a valuable tool for people who are grieving a loss because they serve as a tangible memory of the person who has passed.
Dennis Stack, co-founder of the Legacy Stories family history project, understands how important having a record of a dead loved one’s voice or experiences can be for their loved ones because he has collected them for more than 10 years.
Co-founder Tom Cormier explains how you can make a difference in your family and change the course of history.
Stack’s company is also moving forward with its use of web-based technology as it makes the transition from a system that uses tape recorders as its primary method of story collection to one that uses smartphones.
Released last year, Legacy Stories’ new smartphone application lets record a quick message or story and attach a photograph they’ve taken their device’s camera to it. These messages are saved to a cloud-based server and can be shared instantly with the person’s network of friends and family members.
“Even though family can’t be with the person all the time,” Stack said as he talked about his company’s new story telling method. “They can still connect to the network and be with the person at the exact moment the story was told.”
The new smartphone application comes with a permissions setting that lets the dying person or their caregivers determine who has access to what files – something Stack said keeps the person’s grandchildren from learning about their exploits in college or other information they shouldn’t know.
“It’s a great way of communicating one-to-one or one-to-many on a very discriminating basis,” Stack said, adding one of the new application’s best features is the fact it doesn’t require any special equipment besides what normally comes with a person’s phone.
Since its release, Stack said people have used the application to create albums of old family photos by taking a picture of each image with their phone’s camera and describing what it is. They’ve also recorded updates about the person’s condition that can be shared with the network simply by pushing a button on its screen.
But there is one drawback to using the new technology.
In its previous form, a completed Legacy Stories family history consisted of several cassette tapes that were stored in a portfolio-sized box somebody could wrap in paper and give as a gift.
You can’t do that with the cloud.