Every week we have a CareTech Conversation with someone who we think is bringing something innovative and fresh to the aged care and disability space.
This week we had a conversation with Dr Susan Palmer to find out more behind the free and easy to use online tool, Gather My Crew is a free, online, rostering tool that helps people going through tough times to coordinate the help they need from their own support network.
Careseekers: Can you tell us a bit about Gather My Crew?
Susan: It’s a web app, which means you can’t find it in the app store. People register and get a list of 85 tasks. It’s like an amalgamation of stories – the small things that may tip you over the edge. It not only normalises the process of asking for help, it shows that it’s ok to ask for help.
Careseekers: Can you tell us about the technology behind it?
Susan: You enter all the information about the task and then it sends out an automatic invite and invites your crew – friends, family, neighbours, etc. It turns the tasks into an interactive calendar and shows when people who are able to help out and the times they can. When a crisis occurs a flurry of support happens and this ensures it doesn’t drop away as it commonly does in week two and week three.
You have the inner circle section, which includes those who are close to you and shows them the most sensitive tasks for example personal care or having company when you’re ill.
Careseekers: How did you come up with the idea?
Susan: My background is psychology. I spent many years working with people going through difficult times and would regularly come across a situation where the family or person in need wouldn’t have the support available.
It always left me a bit puzzled as to why it wasn’t done well. Three or four years ago a girlfriend was having back surgery and she had 5-year-old twins. Setting up the roster became very overwhelming with a group of 30 people. There were always willing helpers but the task was hard.
Initially I looked to use an app that was already out there. Meal train is out there and used to take a meal, but people need sustained ongoing care, changing bedsheets, picking people up from school, not just meals.
That was the realisation I had, so I went about creating it.
Careseekers: What followed on from that?
Susan: The beta was developed pro bono, we had $1million of pro bono support and the legal fees were covered by a firm. The support was amazing.
Careseekers: How are things now?
Susan: We’ve just topped over 5000 users.
Careseekers: What about security?
Susan: It is a closed piece of technology which means it doesn’t share URLs. Only you can access it which also empowers the person asking for help.
Careseekers: What are the makeup of the users?
Susan: 60 per cent of people who use Gather My Crew are friends or family members and 40 per cent the care recipients. At the moment, we’ve mainly got sudden health situations, traction in cancer, stroke and premature babies. The gatherer can be the person in need or their loved ones.
Careseekers: What about disability?
Susan: In terms of where we fit in the disability space, isolation is one of the saddest outcomes and what gather my crew does is bring people back into the family unit with a purpose. It helps people to reconnect and engage in a gentle way to work out “how I do help?”. We see ourselves as so much more than just a rostering tool.
Careseekers: What about aged care?
Susan: Its not the focus as the moment however it can definitely be of use. We have some long term users who are a group of six siblings who are supporting their ageing parents.
Careseekers: We always say “let me know how I can help”. What should we be saying to people who are in need?
Susan: It’s tricky and personal. Previously, neighbours would just do things. We have moved and changed and people are uncertain about strangers doing things for them.
This technology was created to start a discussion about why it’s so hard to ask for help and question why asking for help is seen as a sign of failure. On the other side research shows that you have a greater quality of life when you help, it makes us feel more connected and lifts our moods.
Careseekers: What do the next 12 months look like?
Susan: We are always speaking to different interest groups in the communities; mental health, disability, palliative care and ageing. They all love the tool. In two years’ time, we’d love to have multiple versions of it for each group. We have a huge job and don’t want to bite off more than we can chew. Most importantly we want to keep it free, accessible, simple and easy!
To find out more visit their website.