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2nd place winner of the 2019 Caring for the Caregiver Hackathon

by The Lindsay Institute for Innovations in Caregiving.


Caregivers tend to put others needs above their own. As a result, their lives become imbalanced and they stop taking care of their physical, emotional and mental health. The hackathon challenge was to utilize technology to help make care management easier and less stressful for primary caregivers. 


There are about 4 million unpaid caregivers in U.S. and many times they take the caregiving role abruptly with lack of preparation, once the loved one is diagnosed. There are no current effective resources for individuals who are new to the caregiving role. 


New Boots is an app designed to assist individuals in navigating and preparing for their journey in the new role as caregiver.

Click images to view the prototype.



1. Onboarding

We used a metaphor of a backpack and essential items inside as what caregivers would need for their journey ahead. There are five main features/items; map (curated educational resources), flare (emergency contact), water bottle (self care), communication device (caregiving team), and journal (reflection). Because the user will be new to the caregiver role, we wanted to have them spend some time learning about each of the items they need during the onboarding stage. 

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2. Map - Educational Resource

When Mary-Margaret found out her husband had dementia, the first thing she did was a Google search. It was overwhelming. On this map feature, New Boots provides a step-by-step, curated educational resource page from symptoms to financial planning, and contents vary depending on what the user's loved one is diagnosed with. 

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3. Flare - Emergency Contact

Caregivers worry about emergency situations while the loved one is out of their sight. The flare feature is for sharing insurance, medical and other important information with the user's caregiving circle. In case of emergency, the user can easily text all the medical information to others is in their caregiving circle.

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4. Water Bottle - Self-Care

Speakers at the Hackathon event emphasized how important it is to practice self-care while taking care your loved one. The water bottle feature will remind users to take time for themselves and suggest self-care activities.

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Many caregivers describe their experience as a journey. We wanted to design an app that would help them take the first step with a pair of new hiking boots. After brainstorming, we came up with the name "New Boots" and built the look and feel around that concept with a symbol of footprints making a heart. Warm and inviting colors were used for caregivers going through the most stressful time of their journey ahead. 

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During the hackathon, teams from seven different universities in Virginia were paired with a local caregiver to get insights about their experience. Our team was paired with Mary-Margaret who had to take care of her husband for 10 years before he passed away two years ago with Alzheimer's Disease. We listened to her story for a few hours, brainstorming and creating user journeys to discover her pain points.


We discovered that she had the toughest time in the beginning of her journey as a caregiver because she didn't know where to go when feeling lost. As she grows older, Mary-Margaret is now concerned about her son's role in the future taking care of her. She wasn't prepared for her caregiving role, and her son is not prepared to take that role either. 

We spent the majority of our time researching and listening to Mary-Margaret, then moved on to naming our app, thinking about features, and started prototyping with InVision Studio.

Sharon Byun, Experience Design 
Andrea Owens, Experience Design
Katrina Williams, Occupational Therapy
Jahan Shiekhy, Physical Therapy

Here are some images from the hackathon.

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This was an incredible experience. As a mother I can certainly relate to caregiving. It certainly is a journey. A journey that is completely unique in every situation. A journey with highs and lows and unexpected twists. It was very humbling to hear caregivers speak about their unique experiences and how they have managed to face challenges and overcome hurdles. It is clear that we all will either become a caregiver or need a caregiver at some point in our lives. That is why this hackathon is an important event and I'm very proud of my team's accomplishment.

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