When I was approached to join the KareInn Leadership team in February 2017 I accepted without hesitation. After a fifteen-year career in Advertising I had reached a crossroads where I was looking to join a team that would enable me to have a demonstrable impact on both the organization, and the world at large; in essence I wanted to channel my knowledge, skills and energy into making a more active difference.
KareInn, a health-tech company, is on an audacious and compelling mission with a fantastic product to boot, but they needed help with business development. In short the brief to me was simple and enticing – Find the care homes who would benefit most from our software, sign them up and work out how to deliver a gold standard customer experience. I was chomping at the bit to get stuck in.
So what was it about KareInn that got me so excited? Well in the 6 months prior to joining KareInn I had begun to ask myself some big questions like “what are the real world problems I feel passionate about solving?” I explored a myriad of ideas from making ugly spaces more inspirational, to helping solve workplace conflicts, but I kept coming back to the heartbreaking challenge of elderly isolation. Having seen my own grandfather, a bright, energetic and cheeky personal hero of mine become so alone and desperate after my grandmother passed away made it something I just couldn’t ignore. Grandpa refused to even consider the idea of going into a home, (congratulations to the national media who have done an excellent job of making many feel going into a home is a ‘worst case scenario’) determined to struggle on at home, mostly unhappily. I know now that living in a well-run home can provide a new lease of life and a social setting to make those last years more than just a wait for the inevitable.
The truth is that I hit roadblocks very quickly in my exploration of this challenge, not least because I knew very little about operating within elderly communities, or how to engage the elderly with technology.
So that got me to thinking about what I did know, and other ways I may be able to help the elderly live more fulfilling and dignified lives in the final years.
When I was 26 my mum, (then aged 57) was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. It goes without saying that it was a terrible shock and devastated us all. Given a prognosis of just 6 months to live, mum did her best to commit to living the remaining months of her life to the absolute full. In the end Mum lived with the disease for two years following the diagnosis and absolutely made every second count. Despite her rapidly declining condition for the first year of her illness she was determined to keep travelling and racked up some impressive air miles. The second year and last six months was a much more challenging time for her, and for us, her family who cared for her. My mum didn’t have the privilege of ‘getting old’, but I saw her get old before her time and live with a disease that rendered her unable to eat, medicate, or wash without our help. Those were without doubt the hardest months of my life. Nothing prepares you for winching your own mother up in a hoist in the living room so she can go to the loo and then have to wipe her bottom.
When I met Alex he talked to me about the shockingly little support residential care home teams receive from the latest in technological development. It was practically non-existent in the sector despite the fact that there is so much amazing innovation that exists in the world, which, in a care context could totally transform care giving. When he outlined KareInn’s vision to use technology to help fundamentally better co-ordinate and support care, I didn’t need him to explain why this mattered, I knew immediately I had to join the mission.
My hope is that my personal experience of care, combined with my passion to help make later life as dignified as possible, means I can make a useful contribution and play my part in helping KareInn make life just that bit better for everyone in later life.