What? Konnektis Enhancing care through better communication Konnektis is essentially a communication tool, providing real-time information to care networks. Konnektis closes the communication gap by using a tablet that stays permanently in the home of the person being cared for, and is used by all formal and informal carers, as well as health professionals. Our key aim is to improve care outcomes for older people, and Konnektis is creating a step change in social care by enabling high quality, person-centred care for people living independently.
Why? A big problem affecting millions The UK has a large, growing ageing population with an increasing number of older people suffering from chronic conditions that want to remain independent in their own homes for as long as possible. At present, there are almost one million older people in the UK receiving professional formal care and an addition 1.5 million older people receiving informal care from a network of neighbours, friends and family. We need to find ways of effectively bringing together the different care networks that support older people, so that carers can collaborate seamlessly to provide the highest quality person-centred care possible.
How? User-research led, person-centred design, iterative approach I joined Konnektis as their Head of Design in order to ensure that their product was designed to meet the needs of everyone involved – be it the carer or the care agency they work for, or the person being cared for or their family and friends.
Our process has roughly followed the 4 D's of the Double Diamond – Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver. Thanks to a partnership established with Age UK Medway, a regional branch of Age UK, we were able to carry out robust user research with a great range of users including carers, family members, home care management and older people receiving care.
User research – formal carer
Konnektis in use – care tasks
Konnektis in use – care status
Konnektis in use – notifications
Co-design with Age UK Team Leaders
Co-design with Age UK Carers
User testing with Age UK carers
Background Konnektis came out of the personal experience of the Founders – Mark Howells and his father, David – following caring for an elderly relative. Mark's Grandad suffered from a range of conditions, including dementia and diabetes and, like many older people, he wanted stay in his own home for as long as possible. He lived alone and to remain independent, had a broad network of care support that included professional formal carers, informal carers and family members. Care needs could change day-to-day and to deliver the best person-centred care possible, this network of carers should have been able to communicate and collaborate in real-time – but at that time it wasn't possible.
One huge barrier to this was an archaic paper driven system, where the formal carers were writing everything down by hand, with information stored in an A4 folder that stayed in Mark's Grandad's home. And this is still how the system works; it is an industry that hasn't kept up with technological innovations of recent years.
Following their experiences, Mark and David were determined that the home care sector needed radical change to provide the highest quality person-centred care for an ageing population.
Solutions based on user needs During our research, we've spent lots of time with users and have found that the paper system doesn't just produce problems for the family of the person being cared for, but also creates real barriers for everyone in the care sector:
– Older people feel under-informed about their care, even for simple things like when a carer will visit. – Professional carers don't have the real-time information that they need to deliver the best care at their fingertips and spend too much time filling in forms. – Informal carers, such as family members, don't have any real-time information. For Mark's family, that meant that if Grandad had been given food that would trigger a diabetic fit, he wouldn't know until an ambulance was called. – For care providers, paperwork is useless when managing a business. It's also expensive. It needs to be prepared, maintained and stored so most providers make little or no financial return.
Konnektis replaces the pen-and-paper recording and communication system with a 3G internet-enabled tablet that stays in the older person's home and becomes the central enabling hub for the delivery of high quality person-centred care. Used by everyone in the care network, including the older person themselves, we have co-designed the interfaces with each care group to ensure that it meets real underlying user needs and generates significant impact for all user groups:
– Older people have better information about their care and when it is being delivered. – Professional carers have access to the information that they need to deliver the best care possible each day and spend less time filling in paperwork so have more time to care for people. – Informal carers, such as family members, have key information in real-time when they need it and can collaborate effectively with formal carers to deliver the best integrated care possible. – Home care providers are able to offer a high quality service and improve their financial performance.
Konnektis can play a central role in delivery person-centred care and can play a key role in identifying subtle changes in health and care needs so that care networks can prevent small problems escalating quickly to a crisis and hospital visit. Because Konnektis is delivered on an internet-enabled tablet that stays in the older person's home, it can become a hub for other products and services that can assist people day-to-day and keep people engaged with their family and communities to reduce social isolation.
Design approach I joined Konnektis towards the end of last year to head their design effort, and now manage all aspects of design research, graphic design, service design and product development.
I helped Konnektis recognise that the primary challenge is not technology but understanding user needs, motivations and barriers to adoption, particularly of carers. We identified a need to encourage different behaviours that would have significant financial benefits and improved quality outcomes.
Our user co-design experience has been three-fold – working with all the different 'users' of the Konnektis platform; the care agency staff, the family of the service user, and the service user themselves. We have carried out ethnographic research with all three parties – including in-depth interviews, user journey mapping, observations and shadowing. Co-design sessions have been designed and facilitated with all of the above, and are still on-going as we move into the user-testing and live-prototyping phase.
I am leading continued and increasing user engagement to fully understand the roles and motivations of carers and families. A clear understanding of carer behaviour is key to success and our investment of considerable time with carers has generated high value insights, resulting in a design that is responsive to user needs and is being adopted by now enthusiastic carers, family members and service users. It is these early adopters who will in turn become our advocates.
For example, while the majority of carers are enthusiastic about new approaches that can improve their ability to provide the best care possible, there are understandably a proportion of older carers whose initial reaction to change, and specifically to technology, is sceptical. However, having spent a lot of time with sceptics we have yet to find one that does not use texting or social media tools such as Facebook and WhatsApp. As a result, we have released a new carer front-end that is designed to mimic the functionality of a texting app, ensuring that carers will intuitively know how to use it.
We have come out of an accelerator programme, Bethnal Green Ventures, and have been based at Makerversity in Somerset House where they reside. However, one day a week we spend at the Age UK Medway offices in Kent, enabling us to notice nuances in behaviour and approach to truly understand current processes behaviours and how they can be influenced. This also gives the valuable opportunity to carry out on-going ethnographic research and run test out ideas and app iterations with various Age UK staff.
In addition to the carer users, we have spent significant time understanding the roles and motivations of all Age UK Medway employees and now have a substantial library of service design user experience journeys, which identify the key important 'pain points' where Konnektis can encourage more effective behaviours.
This research-heavy design approach has resulted in a design that is responsive to user needs and is being adopted by now enthusiastic carers, family members and service users. It is these early adopters who will in turn become our advocates.
The impact of Konnektis There is significant impact Konnektis can have beyond the care groups, home care providers and older people that use it:
Improved working conditions and better pay for carers is an anticipated outcome of widespread adoption. There are nearly one million professional carers in the UK but, due to the inefficient working practices, long working hours and challenging work, staff turnover in the sector more than 25%. Our co-development approach gives carers the tools that they need while the impact on financial performance of home care providers should enable carers' pay to increase over time.
We expect less social isolation of older people since we are developing a platform that other assistive services can plug into. There are lots of excellent products available that can be delivered via a tablet, but the challenge is always how to encourage widespread adoption. By building the communication and collaboration hub between the care network that home care providers will pay for, Konnektis' influence as an assistive tool for older people can grow over time.
The environmental impact will be material since an effective, secure digital solution will substantially reduce the amount of paperwork that needs to be prepared, stored and disposed of, all of which creates a meaningful impact on the environment. In addition, Konnektis can play a role in more efficient allocation of carers, which will reduce driving time per day and so cut car emission pollution.
The effect on the NHS through preventative care is expected to be significant. One of the key challenges for the NHS with an ageing population is the social and community care – how to help communities take better take care of their older people and to ensure a continuity of integrated care so that potential health problems are addressed earlier, rather than generating a crisis, which ends in A&E admission. By enabling the delivery of high quality person-centred care with information available to the right people in the best format at the right time, Konnektis can play a role in keeping older people health in their own homes for longer.
Sustainable business model Konnektis is being developed as an end-to-end product and service that home care providers can use as a direct replacement for pen-and-paper systems without having to introduce new support technologies, which avoids their taking significant and expensive risk.
Home care providers purchase licenses for each of the the older people that they support at a cost of £15-20 per month, which includes the Konnektis communication platform, the internet-enabled tablet, integration with existing billing/rostering systems and ongoing support.
There are 10,000 home care providers in the UK operating in a sector worth approximately £5 billion per annum, all of which are potential customers of the Konnektis platform.
We chose this because of their innovative approach to a very real problem.
Our aging society is a global issue, and we thought using modern technology, such as a tablet and software, to document their care was smart, giving structure to what can be quite an emotionally draining task.