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UX - Assisted Care

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UX - Helping The Elderly With A Smooth Transition to Assisted Care

Design Thinking and Business Innovation Melbourne - UX meet up at Enterprise Architects Nov 14 2016

On a pleasant Melbourne night at Enterprise Architects at the Rialto Towers, I attended a much anticipated UX meet up - Putting the 'H' in HCD part II.
I have been looking forward to this event and I thought it would be a sell out like the last one.
Due to the limited time, I can only write about my group's journey, and only list some of the solutions at the end of this piece and not go into much detail, but in terms of value, we got so much out of it.
There was plenty of great food and drink for the taking and as we eased into the night's activities we put our thinking hats on.
The subject was: 'How to help once independent elderly people make the transition to assisted care.'
Here are some of the most relevant points of the meet up which helped us map the experience effeciently:

1- The Brief
We were introduced to the activity by a quick overview of what the situation was, what industry (aged care), who the characters were (users), their joys, pains and challenges with no pre-determined (possible) outcomes as it was up to us to map it all out.
To get us 'in the mood' Hugh Adamson asked: Who has a relative who has gone into assisted or aged care?
Now it was becoming personal and very real, our levels of 'Empathy' started to grow at an exponential rate because all of us had someone we loved who had to get assisted or be submitted to an aged care facility or as we say here in Australia: Put into a nursing home.

The brief is a very important component of the UX process as it helps lay a solid foundation and like a compass, it can guide us in the right direction

2- Personas
On each table there were two personas of who our typical 'users' were, each persona highlighting the most relevant information about them, their challenges and health issues and tidbits about the things they loved.
They were all proud senior citizens who for some reason had to get help with either at home care or to be taken to a nursing home.

Walking in our user's shoes
We tried our best to imagine what it would be like to lose mobility, mental capacity, sight, hearing etc.
I would say, and this is only an educated guess that there is a slight bit of 'trauma' involved when moving people into these facilities and our biggest question was: How to make it better for all concerned?

Introducing Alice Bailey

Below is a persona for Alice Bailey who due to a bad fall and hitting her head she is losing her memory fast and will be wheelchair bound for quite a while at an aged care facility.

Introducing Alice Bailey, this lovely lady had a fall, broke her hip, hit her head and she has lots memory and is need of aged care.

3- Creating a more in-depth analysis of the user
Now that we had enough info from a basic persona, we had to describe in more detail the reason why our user was in need of assisted care or nursing home care.

For example: Due to a bad fall, Alice has a broken hip and has hit her head on the concrete, she is losing her memory fast due to her cerebral shock on impact.

Because of the high levels of stress and uncertainty we also had to deal with anxiety and other mental issues such as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) which leads to Depression; also Alice suffered post natal back in 1971.

4- Presenting our findings about the user

There only two groups of two, we both had to describe our user, his/her health issues and what he/she was feeling when nursing care was discussed with them.
We all believed the 'tone of voice' and 'empathy' levels were utmost important in order to communicate about the new living arrangements taking in mind a lot of them were leaving the family home of many, many years of happy memories.

5- Hugh Evans' - 'Mental Handrailing'
As the discussion got deeper, familiar UX terms were used, then all of the sudden the term 'Mental Handrailing' made its first appearance in a UX discussion.
My understanding of Mental Handrailing is:
"Mental Handrailing is when you guide, support, validate and encourage someone's mental process in order to help them understand and achieve a desired outcome or conclusion.
This is similar to the web's 'cookie crumb' principle were you leave a trail in order to help find our way back or keep pointing you in the right direction."

It is like when we give someone the facts, we help them find a satisfactory conclusion and we support them during the whole thinking and analytical process until they reach their destination.

6- A quick journey map
After leaving the meet up, I came up with a journey map of what it would have been like for Alice; from the time of the fall to rehabilitation and physio in the aged care facility, this journey map was not part of the activity but it will shed light to what went on in the session.
There is a lot of high stress, anxiety, uncertainty, pain and discomfort, and as UX practitioners, how would we alleviate those feelings to make the experience better?

 "Family and close friends are a fundamental part of the healing process, especially because Alice's husband Rob died around 10 years ago and she still thinks he is at the back in the shed close to her garden."

This is a rough journey map of Alice's journey from the time she fell to recovery.

7- Role play
This role play was not specifically about Alice, it was about me, imagining an elderly Louis being admitted into an aged care facility.
My knees were bound with elastic bands masterfully put together by Teresa and Hugh Adamson to restrict my movement, I could not move freely and we headed down to the lobby via the elevator to simulate me being admitted to the aged care facility.
According to Hugh Adamson and Teresa Fabila, my whole demeanor changed, I was no longer the fit male, I had become a disoriented elderly male who was uncertain of what was to come.

Hugh Evans played the role of nurse and kept trying to keep me engaged during the whole journey, he used questions like:

  • How many grand children?
  • What are their ages
  • Do you have any pain as we walk?
  • What do you like for supper?
  • Who do you follow in the football?
  • Do you like cricket?
  • Has Mandy got a boyfriend? (15 yo grand daughter)
What amazed me is we both played such good role-plays we felt high degrees of empathy, as actors do when getting in character.

8- Conclusion
2.5 hours went by so quickly, there was so much more we wanted to do but couldn't due to time constraints.

Below are some ideas to bring some sort of 'conclusion' to the meet up.

Possible solutions
Here are some ideas and solutions to help make the transition smoother and less traumatic; our clients (users) were once strong and independent and not being able to do the things the once were able to would be quite a set-back for them.

Here they are:

  • Customer Info - This client database will be for relatives, friends and loved ones to enter basic info, like, favourite vacation spots, greates achievements, friends, names of grandchildren etc. so the staff can speak to the client about things they are familiar with. This will be optional and confidentiality a must.
  • Staff iPad - Staff will have access to this database to help them with information about their client, and on the database any relevant medication and special requirements.
  • Room customisation - Their room will be painted with colours they had in their previous home, it will also have some of the decor and other things the help them feel at home.
  • Communal rooms - These will be rooms where relatives can stay at to help with the transition, they will be set up like a 'health spa' and relatives can access various health services such as massages, etc.
  • BBQ and play areas - Have these areas to make the environment more condusive for visits from friends and relatives. By having loved ones around, clients will be happier and by being happier their health will improve and their stay at the facilities will be more pleasant.

Enterprise Architects
Enterprise Architects were great providing such great food and beverage I really enjoyed the experience, but what I love most about their usual meet up place is the view of the city and the bay from such fantastic location.
Hugh Adamson and Hugh Evans were great hosts (sorry I keep repeating myself), they were very accommodating to our needs and Teresa Fabila contributed so much thanks to her current role as a UX designer and her vast experience in the field, I felt like a kid in a candy store.
Mental Handrailing by Hugh Evans, what a term!!! It means supporting someone mentally by providing the right ideas and information in order for them to arrive at the right conclusion.

I felt the pain of any elderly person going into aged care, because I know one day that person is going to be me and if I can contribute to make that transition better now, maybe Karma will be kind to me and send people who will feel the need to make my experience better.

Louis Salguero

PS. Sorry if you find grammar or spelling mistakes, I apologize in advance, Mea Culpa.....

Photography courtesy of Max Pixel: http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/
Thanks to Enterprise Architects for such an amazing meet up: http://enterprisearchitects.com/

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