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Process - Mobile Design for Dementia Care

SuperCare

My role: Research and Design

Techniques used: Interviews, scenario writing, storyboard generation, user flows, wireframes, interactive prototype

Duration: 4 weeks

Project prompt

We were tasked with designing the UX for a novel mobile app which would help people caring for a loved one with dementia communicate and coordinate care.

What we delivered

SuperCare supports people caring for aging loved ones with dementia by pulling together extended family and friends into an emergency caregiver network. SuperCare is an app that pairs with a smart bracelet to detect when a person with dementia has wandered off, and delegate the responsibility of returning them home to the closest available caregiver.

TeammatesTrisha Suri and Yousef Kazerooni

 
 

Increase Pride, Decrease Burden

 

How do we lower the burden for primary caregivers of loved ones with dementia? How do we encourage the feeling of pride for caregivers? 

These were the most important questions to come out in the personas we were given and the additional research we conducted. We always kept caregiver stress and pride at the center throughout our design of the SuperCare app.

 
 

Research and Ideation

 

We began the project with personas that were already developed:

- Inez: A 75 year old woman living independently who is showing early signs of dementia

- Rosario: Inez's adult daughter who lives across town and is raising a family of her own. She worries about her mother's health and well-being, but needs to balance her own work and home life too.

- Hector: Inez's neighbor and a close family friend. Hector has a busy work schedule and active social life, but has offered to help out from time to time.

We conducted additional interviews with people who are caring for an aging loved one, and researched support groups for caregivers to round out our personas. A quote from an interview that stuck with us throughout our design process perfectly summed up the caregiver's dilemma: "No matter what you do, you can never strike the right balance. It always feels like you should be taking care of one responsibility or another." We decided to focus in on relieving caregiver stress and figuring out how to support them so they can better strike that balance.

Armed with our background research, we created 20 different scenarios to help envision solutions for caregivers. In our scenarios, we explored connecting caregivers in a support group, guided stress relief exercises for caregivers, and passive tracking of Inez's activities.

We storyboarded our most promising scenarios to help solidify our imagined futures.

 
 
 

Solidifying the Design

We decided to design an app that pairs with a smart bracelet to detect when a person with dementia has wandered off, and delegate the responsibility of returning them home to the closest available caregiver.

We began by designing an app specifically for our three main scenarios. The app required one side for the emergency caregiver and another side for the other caregivers. 

I drew out user flows with my team to help us understand what screens needed to be designed.

We then wireframed all the essential screens to give us a blueprint for interactions on the app. 

 
 
 

Visual Design Iterations 

 
 

In our research, we found that it is important for caregivers to maintain a positive outlook. We toyed with many visual themes to keep the app upbeat and fun for caregivers, and eventually landed on a superhero theme. We chose a playful comic strip font and bright colors to create the retro superhero theme.

With a style defined and the wireframes and storyboards to guide us, we designed each screen iteratively.

 
 

Initial whiteboard sketch

First draft of visual design

Final Material Design

 
 

Next Steps

 

When we thought about the future of an app like SuperCare, we envisioned more than elderly care. There are direct translations to other care situations, for example, parents and friends could be emergency caregivers for children with autism who are prone to wandering.

There are also expansions on the SuperCare idea that we considered. For example, care networks could be intermingled, creating a vast web of connections between families, friends, and neighbors who all need a hand from time to time.