One thing to know about caregiving, you can’t really plan for it and you really have to think on your feet. Automagic love needs to surround you everyday. In fact you need to douse yourself in the pool of Automagic so that you have creativity oozing out of ya . Hmm maybe not oozing. Also, you need to be surrounded by a family of creativity. Luckily spouse and child are pretty smart which helps a lot.
We knew dad had to stay with us. He was falling continuously. We even bought a house so he would feel comfortable, but a month before move he fell and we knew he was coming to our inaccessible 2 story house. So we tried to come up with ideas like staying in basement with stair lift and creating a makeshift shower however solution was simple. Here is what we did:
- We sectioned off a corner of the first floor by using a humongous thermal curtain from amazon. This gave him the needed privacy
- We got a Dyson heater. Dad loves to surround himself with super crazy 28 degrees. When the curtains are closed, the heat is contained. This saved us from cranking up the furnace 😉
- Wireless doorbell as a call bell. I heard this idea from lifehacker. Sorry I can’t find link, but it is such a great idea. The range is great and inexpensive
- Bed rails with pockets. We put in all dad’s essential medication, IPad :), phone and wireless doorbell.
- CCAC does sponge bath. I thought sponge bath would be temporary. However, it is not inferior to a shower. He is cleaner than he has ever been and in fact not as tired. I wouldn’t have thunked ;).
A few years back, the doctor performing mom’s operation realized that mom did not stop her blood thinner medication. The doctor was angry with her. Blood thinners had the potential to make mom bleed out during surgery which is obviously a safety issue. However, this concerned me because:
- Mom is hard of hearing, but there was no attempt to write down necessary instructions for surgery.
- There was no avenue for myself or any family member to contact the doctor about the meeting prior to surgery.
This was a flaw in the communication workflow and the patient was blamed. When a user is blamed, especially the vulnerable, it can be scary and there is no possibility for improvement.
When you are in the Automagic mindset, there is a 180 degree shift in thinking. Workflows are no longer perfect, but instead they are flexible and can be improved. Users show the flaws and the enhancements — not the other way around.
We have several PSWs coming to the house to help dad out. There are those in the minority who are not very patient and the experience ends up being frustrating. However, there are PSWs who listen to my dad on how he wants to move which is important because dad has a fused hip. He can’t sit up and has different strategies for getting up. Because the PSWs listen to him, they let him guide them to the workflow. They essentially use the Automagic mindset and the experience is simply delightful.
Automagic is a pre-existing term, but I am hijacking it. I am defining it as a way to make workflows easier. It could be through simple machines, robots, scripting/apps, or even by other humans. Accessibility is definitely contained in Automagic, but it doesn’t end there. Automagic can be applied to schools, government, businesses, research and pretty much anywhere.
Automationeers are those that practice the philosophy. In the medical world, I would consider Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Dieticians and Social Workers as Automationeers. A patient can have many interesting workflow issues that medication can not solve like getting out of bed, putting on clothes, travelling and many more. The Automationeer looks at these workflow issues as challenges and finds solutions like bed rails, chair lifts, and so on. Again, this is also part of accessibility but Automagic applies to any workflow medical and beyond.
Some may label this as hacks, but a workflow change has the potential to give someone their independence. Such a powerful impact should have a loftier word representing it. Automagic is that word.