Improving Dementia Care Through Innovation: How The MyDC App Empowers Carers and
The Telematics Trust knows technology is a powerful means to transform lives through education and training.
Health Australasia’s MyDC app, fuelled by a grant from the Telematics Trust, is a compelling testament to this transformative power. A $50,000 grant from the Telematics Trust paved the way for Health Australasia to enhance its innovative dementia care educational app, "My Dementia Companion" (“MyDC”). Here’s how MyDC came about and how Health Australasia overcame challenges to create an app that achieves remarkable outcomes.
Transforming Dementia Care
Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia. It presents immense challenges for the people it affects, including their carers. In the past, dementia support information was overwhelming, impractical, and lacked personalisation. Health Australasia recognised the need to empower carers with the resources and knowledge to navigate the intricate system of support services and develop effective care strategies for patients.
Health Australasia developed MyDC to revolutionise dementia care by offering bespoke, realworld guidance through an intuitive digital platform. The grant from the Telematics Trust played a pivotal role in realising these goals. It enabled Health Australasia to refine and enhance the app's content and features based on user feedback and expert collaboration.
Implementing a project of this magnitude has its challenges. With a keen understanding of the diverse needs of carers and care professionals in the dementia care landscape, Health Australasia decided to develop not one but two distinct interfaces: the CARER app and the PRO app. The CARER app is the cornerstone of the MyDC project. Designed with family carers in mind, its primary focus is to provide support information to empower carers navigating the complex journey of dementia care.
Shortly after developing the CARER app, Health Australasia quickly recognised an additional layer of support was required. Care professionals, crucial in guiding families, also encounter difficulties accessing information to educate carers, primarily due to a lack of dementia-specific care guidelines. Thus emerged the PRO app, specifically developed to offer care professionals the tools to educate and guide families.
Balancing resources between the original CARER app and the new PRO app proved demanding. However, the judicious allocation of funds enabled the MyDC team to conduct extensive codesign sessions with care professionals, resulting in the successful development of MyDC PRO.
MyDC’s Chief Executive Officer, Nan Yu, says:
"As a passion project working in an area of high unmet need, but with low funding, we have a very limited budget on all fronts. The grant enabled MyDC to step up and go to the next level for both the CARER and PRO apps, which simplifies the dementia journey to guide family carers and professionals to provide best quality care, so the person living with dementia can live a meaningful life. We were able to improve product features and content based on co-design and feedback, and most importantly, initiate wider implementation to actually deliver practical impact in the community and with service providers. We have since gone from strength to strength, thanks to the Telematics Trust.
"The success of MyDC is undeniable. The enhanced CARER app curates practical, bite-sized resources for families navigating dementia care. The app bridges the gap between overwhelming generic resources and the need for tailored support, guiding carers from the moment of diagnosis to end-of-life care. The newly developed PRO app creates a collaborative environment where professionals and carers can collaborate seamlessly, ultimately improving the quality of care to people with dementia."
MyDC set out to reach a target audience of at least 500 people and exceeded expectations. Despite disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, MyDC assisted approximately 1,000 carers within its first year. The outcomes extended to both the CARER and PRO interfaces, each leaving a distinct footprint.
The CARER app achieved an impressive monthly active rate of around 10% (bearing in mind that dementia care can last over 20 years), indicating consistent engagement. Over 1,000 carers participated in the program in the first year. This number is expected to grow exponentially with the increasing collaboration of aged care providers.
The introduction of the PRO app resonated profoundly, as evidenced by the pilot phase, in which 100% of users expressed high satisfaction levels. Professionals and carers alike attest to the platform's effectiveness, with 100% of professionals and 68% of carers believing they could deliver better care after engaging with the apps.
The success of the MyDC project lays a strong foundation for future projects. The development team’s focus now shifts to expanding their reach and impact. They aim to upscale the CARER and PRO apps to benefit more aged care professionals and carers, create comprehensive dementia care guidelines, and engage with peak bodies and governments to shape policy.
A legacy of innovation
The development of MyDC underscores the importance of visionary partnerships like the one between Health Australasia and the Telematics Trust. The CARER and PRO apps have empowered carers and care professionals and made an indelible mark on the dementia care landscape. With a strong foundation in place, MyDC promises to transform the countless lives of people affected by dementia for years to come.