In Three Minutes
This is our project explained in three minutes.
We made changes to some of the elements mentioned in this video. They include:
- Removal of the section for Bill 124, in accordance with our project partner’s non-partisan stance.
- Sharing positive stories only from family members of long-term care residents. We could not ask the residents themselves nor long-term care workers.
Part I: The Problems
COVID-19 has further exposed the issues that continue to thrive in Ontario’s long-term care system. These issues include understaffing in long-term care homes, mistreatment of residents, overall low quality of care residents receive, no personal protective equipment available for personal support workers… the list goes on.
Make no mistake: these issues have been around for decades. It is only now that COVID-19 brings them to mainstream media. There was no end to news headlines that talked about COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care homes, and the eventual involvement of military personnel in delivering care.
One of our team members is a personal support worker and works in a long-term care home. Aside from the research we did, they gave us their insights working at one long-term care home. They suggested that as a team, we could make something to help schedule staff more efficiently, in homes that do not have the technological structure in place. All of us thought that was a great idea: a free or low-cost scheduling app for long-term care workers could help underfunded homes coordinate their current staff more effectively.
Throughout the fall semester, we thought of eight ideas:
- A chatbot that can interact with long-term care residents and alleviate loneliness
- A partnership between telehealth service providers and long-term care homes
- A communication platform for all long-term care residents in a home to use when communicating with workers about their needs
- A standardized checklist system for long-term care workers to use. They can upload pictures as supporting evidence to ensure compliance with regulations
- A platform where family members, residents, and workers can leave reviews for long-term care homes in the Greater Toronto Area
- A training program for long-term care staff on geriatric, palliative, and end-of-life care
- A 24-hour empathy training program to orient new long-term care workers
- And of course, a scheduling application to coordinate long-term care workers in underfunded homes
The App’s Early Designs
We did not have any design drafts for the scheduling app idea.
On the other hand, we had rough guidelines for what this free/low-cost scheduling app could look like.
App rough guidelines
If it is a mobile app, it should be an iOS app. Many long-term care homes have Apple devices that staff use. Though, a Windows application is most preferable since it is easier managing information on a desktop computer.
It should be as lightweight as possible. User data can greatly increase the app’s size.
It should be compatible with older software.
It should be able to function without an internet connection.
It should have the option to lock the app’s contents behind a passcode.
It may have a feature where data can be exported into a calendar file, or a spreadsheet file.
~*Time skip to January 2022*~
Part II: Our Solution
We found out it was much more difficult for us to create it. No one in our team had app development skills or experience in designing a good app user experience for its appearance.
When we read feedback on our research/design portfolio, it was time for us to go back to the drawing, or should I say, Miro board.
Also, cue the six team meetings and two meetings with our project partners that we had throughout January while we tried figuring out what we could do for our project.
To give you an idea of the situation we were in at this point in time:
- We had two months left in the course to create our capstone project.
- We did not apply for ethics approval for our project with the research ethics committee. For our new project idea, this meant that we could not ask for information related to specific long-term care homes from personal support workers and other staff.
- If we needed project funding, we had until March 15th to figure out whether our new project idea needs funds from York Capstone Network.
- One of our team members left the course.
Our New Project Idea
Two team members created a document outlining the project idea they proposed. That idea is this website we have now: a virtual long-term care toolkit for family members who have their loved ones currently living in long-term care.
Along with a few new project ideas we brainstormed, which included a volunteer program for high school students to complete their volunteer hours and a media awareness campaign highlighting stories in long-term care, we proposed these three ideas to our project partners.
They were impressed with the virtual toolkit idea, as it is something that we all can contribute much more towards. Everyone has the skills to help create a virtual long-term care toolkit. This is one major difference that sets this idea apart from our first idea, the scheduling app. Another major difference is that this idea is aligned with our project’s scope. Our first idea involved institutional challenges in long-term care that we cannot overcome as a student team. The virtual toolkit for families of residents is an idea that is possible for us to execute, while we acknowledge that it will be a building block for future social change in Ontario’s long-term care rather than something that radically changes long-term care.
Part III: Where We Are Now
What will happen to this virtual toolkit after this capstone course?
After having a few discussions around the project’s legacy and our future involvement with this project, many of us are happy to give this website to our project partners. A few team members intend to keep in touch with project partners after the course ends, and one team member may manage the website for the next two years.
What we learned as a team
These are some key takeaways we will bring with us beyond the capstone course:
- Communication is important. It is what makes or breaks a team.
- Have confidence in your knowledge, skills, and capabilities. Learning to trust your judgment and lead in tasks you are responsible for is critical to project success.
- Let it go. Not everything will go as planned.
Last but not least, most issues involved in our project’s challenge question are at levels we cannot reach. They are often issues related to current policies and legal regulation of long-term care. In that case, we learned to change our project focus and narrow our scope to areas where we can make positive social impact.
Read our project portfolio here.