What started as concern for one set of parents at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved into a new user-friendly online app for seniors.
Called Stayhome-Living it’s designed to keep them connected not only to entertainment options but to valuable day-to-day resources, including healthcare, community services and wellness information.
Co-conceptualized by South Surrey residents Carolyn Glazier and Barry Jones and developed by Carolyn’s dad, Tom Waters, the free app was launched this week at stayhome-living.com (a YouTube preview can also be seen at https://youtu.be/5HI2QGLcfdI).
The aim of the app, as described on the Stayhome-Living website is to provide a means to “reconnect seniors with many of the things they love and miss, all from the comfort and safety of their own homes.”
While technology may be second nature to many, as the creators point out, “navigating the nuances of apps and websites can be overwhelming for an older adult.”
In contrast, the much easier-to-use Stayhome-Living app offers a thoughtful, clean, minimalist layout; designed to guide seniors directly to the resources and links they are looking for while avoiding many of the difficulties – and confusions – of open web searches.
The app opens a virtual “house” on most devices, including iPads and, iPhones, android phones, PCs and Apple tablets, laptops, and desktops; grouping information in eight clickable options: agenda (a personalized calendar); entertainment; activities; services; connect; healthcare; learning; and support.
By pressing on one of these windows, or the door, older adults can find the latest news, their daily schedule, and everything from a meditation class, to direct access to their Facebook account, plus easy connections to email and messaging.
“My parent are both in their late 80s, but they’re very social people,” Jones said. “Back in March,when the lockdown was first established, they were starting to feel disconnected, not able to see their large social circle, or see their children, and grandchildren.”
Less than a year later, Jones’ parents have embraced the app and – as part of the select group of seniors that the creators assembled to ‘test-fly’ it – have surprised themselves and Jones, too, with their level of connectedness.
“They’re having a lot of fun with it,” he said.
So, too, have other seniors who have been using the app and giving feedback while it was being perfected, Glazier said.
“They’re doing amazing things for themselves; making doctors’ appointments; ordering groceries,” she marvelled.
It’s particularly heartening, she said, to see what they had visualized in the early days of the pandemic coming to fruition and actually helping people.
“Everything we’d read was that seniors were falling through the cracks,” she said. “It was important to do something to contribute.”
Glazier noted it is ironic – but also valuable – that the app they conceptualized was developed by a senior.
Before he retired, she said, Waters had extensive experience in programming and developing websites.
“He’s been travelling the world, but when COVID hit he had to come home,” she said. “I said, ‘I think we have the perfect person to develop this!’”
So far, they said, they have had tremendous support and encouragement not just from users, but from service and content providers and vendors, all of whom readily see the advantages of making connectivity easier.
Businesses such Save-On Foods, the Telus Babylon mobile healthcare app, and content providers such as Jamie Oliver’s YouTube channel, and CTV and BBC network streaming services have been encouraging and amenable to working with Stayhome-Living, Jones said, as have community organizations such as the Surrey-White Rock chapter of CARP.
Vendor interest is what helps grease the wheels of what is essentially a free service, they said.
But it’s not been lost on anyone that the app, while designed specifically for seniors, provides welcome simplification for younger users as well.
“I’ve had a lot of younger people I know take a look at the app and say, ‘I think I’m going to be using this, too,’” Glazier said.
Everything suggests that the Stayhome-Living concept will have legs, even in a post-pandemic era in which people will be even more technologically aware on a practical level, Glazier and Jones said.
“We haven’t gone into any partnerships or sponsorships at this point,” Glazier noted. “But that’s something we are looking at as the app evolves.”