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March 26, 2014 
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From the Editor's Pen Gary Barg • Editor-in-Chief • gary@caregiver.com

Gary Barg
Caregiving Tools and Technologies:
Task Verification

Gary Barg: More than anything else, as a family caregiver, you’re a manager of a wide range of service providers. And as such, you are in need of effective management tools. How did you come up with TaskAssure?

Shawn ODonnell:  A few years ago, I really started thinking, “There’s a challenge here that’s preventing some folks from really getting the support they need.” And I didn’t mean the patients as much as I meant the family caregivers. I wanted caregivers to have peace of mind when dealing with support personnel coming into their loved one’s home. Before now, you could only call the person, send a neighbor over to spy on them, or even rely on your mom or dad’s word. In any case, you’re depending on someone else to do something. The engineering part of me said, “This isn’t that hard of a problem to solve.” So, I came up with TaskAssure. I wanted to be able to give peace of mind through information because information is power.

TaskAssure AdGary Barg:  A caregiver can be at work and know that the people helping their loved one are who they say they are and doing what they were hired to do.

Shawn ODonnell:  Exactly. And I had the motto, “Trust, but verify.” The system determines if the person you hired showed up to your loved one’s home. It’ll also determine that the person is actually who you hired. As a caregiver, you’ve probably put a lot of thought into who you selected to do the work at your loved one’s home, and you don’t want them to send their cousin without telling you, if they are under the weather one day. There is a facial recognition system, as well as a unique password that ensures the person you hired is the one that arrives to do the work.

Let’s say you’re paying by the hour. You probably would rather know if they’re sitting watching TV or working with your loved one. So, we’re going to use the sensors. With some clever coding, we can detect whether they are actually moving around at the kind of rate you would during housekeeping versus sitting watching TV. It’s the “Trust, but verify” thing. “You’re giving me an hour’s worth of cleaning.  Okay, I trust you, but I’m going to verify it.”

Gary Barg:  I was thinking this is also good for the informal family team: “Cousin Ted, weren’t you taking Mom to the dentist on Tuesday? Did you take her?”

Shawn ODonnell:  Sure. Let’s say that you have brothers and sisters located in different cities and Mom and Dad are in yet another city. That happens a lot. But, with TaskAssure, the caregiver creating the task clicks on “share,” entering the IDs of their siblings. Now, they will receive the same alerts, text messages, and e-mails about the work to be done.

Gary Barg:  I thought it was really cool that with GEO tracking, you can see that your loved one’s aide took them on the walk where and when you requested.

Shawn ODonnell:  Maybe Dad’s recovering from hip surgery and he needs to take a walk around the neighborhood. You can see the little dots on your screen that signify on a map exactly where Dad and the aide walked around the neighborhood and when they took the walk. I designed TaskAssure as a management tool for family caregivers, as well as an empowerment tool. You’re not just keeping your fingers crossed anymore that the people coming to your loved one’s home are the people you thought would be coming, but you can actually ensure that they performed the tasks you paid them to do.


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