Because my husband has some chronic health issues and because our children live across the country, I reluctantly agreed to arrange for help from a home- health agency. My husband and I had agreed that our preference was “to age in place” if possible and arrange for the help we needed in order to remain in our home. And so, we took the plunge and made arrangements for help from the agency our daughter liked the best when she checked out several possibilities. This was Home Instead. So far working with them has been a very positive experience. But the most positive in its way was a device the agency provided for my husband (and me) to use.
Following a talk with the Home Instead representative who wanted to know what kind of help we needed, we were told that my husband would receive a GrandPad A what? What is that? Well, it turns out to be a truly remarkable device. It is a toy, a communication device, a camera, a companion, easy to use and fun and th size is just right. We are amazed with the range of items available and especially like the wide range of music choices and the sound quality. One night when my husband and I were enjoying wonderful music the volume would not work properly. I had been told that there was help available 24/7 and I decided to give it a try and called the help number from the device. And, yes, a real person answered and resolved the problem and someone called the next day to be sure we did not need additional help.
I was absolutely intrigued with the device and I had many questions about it ,which Dan Wieberg, International Public Relations Director was kind enough to answer. Please, read on for the Q & A.
- What was the impetus for developing a device for older individuals?
GrandPad was created by the father-son team of Scott and Isaac Lien who were living in California and wanted a way to stay connected to Scott’s parents in Iowa as Isaac was growing up. Scott and Isaac were experts in technology and the parents were brilliant people who weren’t afraid to use technology; but even so, they experienced numerous challenges and frustration, including slow wifi; outdated equipment; forgotten passwords; and hearing and visi on challenges. Scott and Isaac began talking to others about their experience and realized they were not alone. So, they put their expertise and experience to work to create GrandPad. The home care tablet powered by GrandPad allows Home Instead to more efficiently update and assess care plans, build relationships with clients and families, and support CARE Givers in the home.
- What were the roles of Acer and Home Instead in developing this device?
Acer manufactures the GrandPad tablet and was an early investor in the company. Home Instead also saw the potential in GrandPad and became an early investor, and began to use GrandPad tablets to connect with their clients and families. Because of this existing relationship, Home Instead has been able quickly deploy GrandPad technology to connect families with aging loves ones during the COVID-19 pandemic when many older adults are lonely and socially isolated.
- How was the programming determined?
The GrandPad tablet is the only solution designed for and by older adults. It comes preloaded with software and apps that are easy to use for older adults and that keep family members and caregivers connected with aging loved ones. There are also numerous apps that provide cognitive and social engagement for seniors, as well as entertainment and a connection to an individual’s local community and world events. Our employee population includes a very special group called our Grand Advisors. This group tests the GrandPad and provides feedback on the features and functions, along with recommendations for content and future enhancements. Our oldest employee is a Grand Advisor who turned 106 this year. Home instead also established focus groups of clients and CAREGivers to enhance the experiences for both parties.
- Approximately, how many Grandpad’s are currently in use? By individuals? By Home Instead users?
Collectively, GrandPad and Home Instead have connected more than 960,000 seniors with friends and family more than 100 countries.
- How was the name GrandPad selected?
We went through a branding process that revealed several good name options, but at the end of the day, Grand Pad was the name that elicited the most positive response among seniors wanted a name that quickly resonated with older adults and that was clear and easy to remember. The “Grand” in “GrandPad” reflects the importance or significance of this population and the majestic quality we see in them.
- GrandPad has an unusual internet set up. Can you explain how that works and how this came to be?
The GrandPad features a closed internet environment, which means only people who are approved by a Family Administrator can connect with a senior via the GrandPad. We created this structure in an effort to build a “circle of trust” around the older adult and to protect them from scams, theft, or any related types of harm that can come from bad actors online. Sadly, the rate of scams perpetrated against older adults is increasing during COVID-19, making this feature more important than ever. With GrandPad, the senior knows that every time the device chimes, it’s someone they know and trust.
- How did the icons for the GrandPad come about?
This is another area where we relied on feedback from our Grand Advisors and other seniors to ensure that the icons were easy to see and read or recognize.
- The navigation on the GrandPad is so logical and rewarding. Can you tell me more about this?
We wanted to make the GrandPad intuitive and easy to navigate for anyone who may have physical challenges, such as hearing or vision loss or limited dexterity. The large, crisp icons and use of family member photos make it easy for GrandPad users to find the content, functions or family members they’re looking for at any given time. In addition, the touchscreen on the GrandPad is specially designed to respond to skin that is thin and dry; which is a fact of aging that can make it difficult for older adults. With traditional mobile devices, this lack of moisture in our fingertips can make it difficult to get the touchscreen on a traditional device to respond. GrandPad removes this barrier and makes it easy for older adults to scroll through the screens and engage with people or content.
Unless otherwise noted, photos are courtesy of Home Instead